The benefits of exercise into a single pill for patients at risk
Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) have discovered unique molecular signals in the human body which could hold the key to establishing an effective supplement that can deliver the benefits of exercise to patients who are unable to exercise.
Immediately after exercising, the molecular signals are transmitted directly to our brains, and possibly our eyes.
The ANU team is conducting research to understand the effects these molecular messages can have on the health of the retina but also on the central nervous system as well as eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Associate Professor Riccardo Naoli, Head of Clear Vision Research at ANU claims that the molecules can be hijacked, altered, and “bottled up” in pills and then taken as a supplement to a vitamin.
“The lipid particles are what we call the beneficial messages that exercise sends the central nervous systems. He stated that we are basically delivering the molecular message about exercise to people who are physically incapable of do it.
“We believe that as we get older the ability to communicate between retina and muscles begins to diminish. Similar to taking supplements, maybe we can offer genetic or molecular supplementation that enables that natural biological process to continue to develop as we get older.
“Our objective is to figure out what these molecules are communicating to the body and the way they’re communicating.”
A new ANU research has reviewed existing research on the effects of exercise and the central nervous system on the eyes. Researchers sought to determine whether exercise improves eyesight as we age by studying the effects of exercise on the retina which is the sensor of light portion of the eye.
Dr Joshua Chu-Tan, who is also from the ANU Clear Vision Research Lab Dr Joshua Chu-Tan, also from the ANU Clear Vision Research Lab, says that needed to discover how these molecular signals, which are sent by the rest of the body during exercise get to our brain and eyes.
He said that preliminary research by the team into the effects of exercise on the retina revealed some promising results.
We know that exercise is beneficial to our eyesight. But, we don’t know how much. Dr. Chu-Tan explained that our aim is to better understand the molecular effects of exercise and how it affects the central nervous system and the retina.
“We discovered that the benefits of exercising go beyond what has traditionally been recognized, but this has been largely understudied in the retina, despite it being an extension of the brain.
“One of the primary objectives of this review was to discover the effects of exercise on the body and the reasons why it is beneficial to our brains and eyes.
The future-looking therapy could be used to help patients with neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Dr Chu-Tan stated that it has been suggested that patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s might benefit from exercise prescriptions.
“We are aware of this from looking at diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, if you exercise in a certain manner, you may stimulate neuronal activity.
“This isn’t examined in the retina at a level that we can think of.” We want to understand the molecular messages that underpin the benefits of exercise.”
According to the researchers the supplement is intended for patients who have restricted movement and who are not able to perform the vigorous exercise required to benefit from the benefits. It is not intended for the general population.
“We can’t possibly pack all the effects of exercise into one pill, there are too many benefits that stretch across the entire body and beyond what we can ‘prescribe as a objective,” Dr Chu-Tan said.
Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology published a systematic review of the literature on the effects of exercise on the central nervous system and the eyes by Max Kirkby, Max Kirkby and Dr. Chu-Tan.
Chu-Tan, J.A., et al. (2021) Running to keep sight: The effects of exercise on the retina’s health and function. Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology. doi.org/10.1111/ceo.14023.
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