The physiology of championsDecember 20, 2007
What could be a greater test of the limits of human physiology than the Olympics" To mark the 2008 games in Beijing, the Journal of Physiology present a special issue focusing on the science behind human athleticism and endurance.
This unique collection of original research and in-depth reviews examines the genes that make a champion, the physiology of elite athletes, limits to performance and how they might be overcome.
Excess body heat is a barrier to performance in many sports, and a novel study by Romain Meeusen et al.1 shows that both the neurotransmitter systems have an important impact on the control and perception of thermoregulation.
Rats whose dopaminergic and the noradrenergic reuptake was inhibited - by the anti-smoking aid Xyban - were able to exercise twenty minutes longer than usual in the sweltering heat and tolerated higher core body temperature.
What genes makes a champion, asked Alun Williams et al"2 They identify 23 individual genetic variations that enhance athletic performance -- "If the optimum genetic combination existed in one person, world records like Paula Radcliffe's would probably be shattered."
Left to nature, the odds of anyone alive having all 23 variations is just 200,000:1. But what might the future hold for genetic manipulation and testing"
It's no surprise that Marcus Amman et al. have shown that tiring out a leg muscle will subsequently reduce your performance in a 5km cycling time trial -- but would you have guessed that it is 'all in the mind'"3
It is not the muscle's own temporary weakness that reduces performance, they find, but instead the brain places an unconscious 'brake' on the central motor drive to the limbs and therefore regulates exercise performance.
Related Genes Articles:
An international team of researchers has found, for the first time, seven risk genes for insomnia.
By screening thousands of individuals, an international team led by researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, the University of Bristol, the Broad Institute and the iPSYCH consortium has provided new insights into the relationship between genes that confer risk for autism or schizophrenia and genes that influence our ability to communicate during the course of development.
The Neanderthals disappeared about 30,000 years ago, but little pieces of them live on in the form of DNA sequences scattered through the modern human genome.
Many of the characteristics that make up a person's face, such as nose size and face width, stem from specific genetic variations, reports John Shaffer of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, and colleagues, in a study published on Aug.
Using rats carefully bred to either drink large amounts of alcohol or to spurn it, researchers at Indiana and Purdue universities have identified hundreds of genes that appear to play a role in increasing the desire to drink alcohol.
For a long time dismissed as 'junk DNA,' we now know that also the regions between the genes fulfill vital functions.
Research led by Dr. Keiji Tanimoto from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, has brought us closer to understanding the mechanisms underlying the phenomenon of genomic imprinting.
The DNA in our cells is folded into millions of small packets, like beads on a string, allowing our two-meter linear DNA genomes to fit into a nucleus of only about 0.01 mm in diameter.
A new approach developed by Harvard geneticist George Church, Ph.D., can help uncover how tandem gene circuits dictate life processes, such as the healthy development of tissue or the triggering of a particular disease, and can also be used for directing precision stem cell differentiation for regenerative medicine and growing organ transplants.
Researchers at Duke University have demonstrated a new way to activate genes with light, allowing precisely controlled and targeted genetic studies and applications.
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