LAUSANNE, Switzerland – Swiss scientists created super-strong mice, with muscles twice as strong as those of normal mice, by tweaking a gene.
The "Mighty Mouse" is stronger, faster and can run twice the distance of ordinary mice before showing signs of fatigue, according to a team of scientists from the Laboratory of Integrative Systems Physiology, in Lausanne.
The team, working in collaboration with scientists from the University of Lausanne and California's Salk Institute, created the super mice by reducing the function of a natural inhibitor -- called NCoR1 -- which they believe may be responsible for how strong and powerful muscles can be.
Without the inhibitor, the muscle tissue developed much more effectively, according to the study, published in the journal Cell. Similar results also were observed in worms.
If scientists can replicate the effect in humans, they may be able to use the technique to successfully treat age-related or genetically-caused muscle degeneration.
"This could be used to combat muscle weakness in the elderly, which leads to falls and contributes to hospitalizations," researcher Johan Auwerx said. "In addition, we think that this could be used as a basis for developing a treatment for genetic muscular dystrophy."
However, if the results are confirmed in humans, the scientists warned that it may also attract interest from athletes.
"It will be important for anti-doping authorities to monitor that these treatments are not used in an unauthorized manner," Auwerx added.