Flex Excerpt: Future Shock - Myostatin Research Provides Hope!

Will 400, even 500-pound bodybuilders step on the Mr. Olympia stage one day? The following is an excerpt from the September 2006 issue of Flex Magazine.

The following is an excerpt from the September 2006 issue of Flex Magazine.

Jay Cutler
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Jay Cutler Makes The Front Cover!


Future Shock - Myostatin Research...
Provides Hope For Millions In Need, But Will Bodybuilders Co-Opt It For Personal Glory?

"October 2041: As he gracefully glides through his free-pose routine, the rookie competitor savors the applause of his approving audience. They recognize the obvious genetic gifts of the 28-year-old and appreciate the artistic flair with which he displays his physique.

Despite its enthusiasm, the savvy crowd realizes that the young man is merely an appetizer being served up before the evening's main course. At 5'8" and only 340 pounds, he's a bit on the thin side and he knows full well, as does everyone in attendance, that there's little he can do to change that.

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If he's lucky during his career, he'll make it to 350 with 2% body fat, but his blood is testing 100% negative for myostatin as it is. He has read about a new myograft procedure being performed on mice, but word is that the technology is still a decade away from human trials. At this point, he'll simply have to dedicate his bodybuilding career to displaying his physique as best he can.

Even before the kid exits, an audible buzz of excitement begins to rise to the arena's rafters. The mélange of claps, whistles and hoots becomes so deafening that by the time the reigning champ takes his first steps toward center stage, no one can be sure if the emcee even announced his name.

The stage floorboards sag visibly as the 5'10" 400-pound veteran slowly saunters into the spotlight, savoring every last wail from his adoring fans. He may not be the biggest guy in the contest (that would be the 6'2" 440-pounder from Germany), but he's the best - from his 68" chest to his 27" arms down to his 31" waist and 40" thighs - and everyone knows it."

A scene like that, as fantastical as it may seem, might be made possible thanks to pioneering gene research being done to find a cure for an insidious muscle-wasting disease. In fact, with athletes co-opting cutting-edge science since the creation of anabolic steroids in the 1930s, a stage full of genetically altered superbodybuilders in two or three decades' time seems a pretty good bet.

As was the case with steroids, the research behind the science has been fueled not by those for whom the building of muscle is a luxury, but for whom it is a matter of life and death.


For The Kids

Every Labor Day, you inevitably find yourself either flipping past or tuning in to the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon. It's easy to forget that behind all the chummy kibitzing and Vegas-style entertainment, the goal of the 21½ hour pledgefest is to raise funds to find a cure for a deadly genetic disorder.

Muscular Dystrophy affects millions of people worldwide. It knows no geographic or social boundaries, but the disease is most often found in young boys in the form of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). DMD is X-linked, meaning the gene that causes it is found on the X chromosome, of which females have two and males one.

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Because DMD is carried on one X chromosome only, females are usually spared the disease but can be carriers. Half the males born to DMD carriers will suffer the disease.

DMD is caused when a defective gene shuts down production of dystrophin, a protein that is required inside muscle cells for structural support. Without dystrophin, muscles wither and eventually waste away. Symptoms are usually seen at around the age of three and include late speech, swollen calves and difficulty with balance and walking. DMD, like other forms of muscular dystrophy, is a progressive disorder with no cure. Most Duchenne sufferers don't live beyond their early 30s.

However, it is because the majority of MD sufferers are children that Lewis' telethon has received such a heartfelt outpouring of financial support during its 40-year history, support that has helped fuel the drive that will produce an effective treatment for all muscle-wasting diseases - and deliver us 400-pound bodybuilders.