Researchers are now saying that the gene known as "mighty mouse" might be beneficial in human cells as well. Studies on this gene arose when a German neurologist , stumbled on a newborn who appeared to have especially well-developed muscles. Further tests revealed the child had a mutation in his myostatin gene that effectively kept his body from producing the myostatin protein, which is known to regulate muscle growth. So far the child, now age 4, has had no ill effects from the mutation, but doctors are watching him closely as he grows up.
The original research on the myostatin gene was conducted by researchers in 1997. They found "knocking out" the gene produced mice with muscles that were twice as large as those of their normal siblings.
AdvertisementDoctors believe harnessing the gene could one day help people with muscle-wasting diseases like muscular dystrophy. Elite athletes are also interested in the science and its potential to increase muscle mass in healthy people too. Thus researchers say , that their research gives them a great deal of hope that agents already known to block myostatin activity in mice may be able to increase muscle mass in humans too.