July 01, 2009
Mechano Growth Factor Hormone For Stronger Muscles

Bored of the same old hormones for boosting your muscle mass? Wnat to try a new trendy buffing hormone? Mechano Growth Factor (MGF) could become the next rage for athletic dopers.

Scientists in the UK and Denmark have shown that if elderly men were given growth hormone and exercised their legs showed an appreciable muscle mass increase. Dr. Geoff Goldspink (Royal Free and University College Medical School, UK) says: "This raises the question: Can age-related loss of muscle strength and increased fragility be ameliorated by the therapeutic application of mechano growth factor (MGF)?". There is hope that MGF can also help sufferers of diseases such as muscular dystrophy, ALS, renal disease or cancer, for whom intensive exercise is not an option. It may even prove useful to ameliorate muscle loss resulting from long periods in zero-gravity conditions during space travel. Dr. Mark Lewis (University College London, UK) will present their latest results on how MGF exerts its effects during his talk at the Society of Experimental Biology Annual Meeting in Glasgow on Wednesday 1st July 2009.

When muscles are stretched during exercise, they produce a specific substance known as mechano growth factor (MGF) that activates stem cells already present in the tissue. Once activated, these progenitor cells begin to divide, creating additional muscle fibres and increasing the size and strength of the muscle. In addition to intensive exercise, muscles need to be stimulated by growth hormone (GH) in order to release MGF. Since there is a natural decrease in the levels of this hormone as we age, this may combine with the lack of intensive physical activity to cause muscle wasting in elderly people. "The downside", warns Dr. Goldspink, "is that MGF has great potential for doping in sports. A synthetic version is already available over the internet, and although it is still very expensive, it is expected that new technologies will bring down the price to make it comparable to that of human insulin".

The downside? I hear negativity coming from Dr. Goldspink when optimism seems more the order of the day. New ways for athletes to boost their performance? Don't we want them to improve? Don't we want continuous improvement leading to the perfection of human bodies? Aren't we hearing the march of transhumanist progress? Isn't progress good? Don't we need the prospect of stronger bodies to boost our spirits as Peak Oil approaches?

My bottom line on drug doping by athletes: Why should we care? Why should we only want to see natural wild type bodies compete? That would be tantamount to saying that car races should only be done with standard mass produced factory cars. But we expect more from our race cars, much more. Why not expect more from humans?

The way I see it: Some people get the luck of the genetic draw and have incredible athletic bodies. If lucky genetic naturals want to compete only with each other, fine. Have contests for genetic naturals. But why not other contests between those boosted athletes who can strut with the latest that biomedical science and technology have to offer?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 July 01 10:46 PM  Biotech Athletics

JP Straley said at July 2, 2009 6:02 AM:

Generally, bodily enhancements for sport will reduce the audience for professional sports. IMHO, a good thing.

JP Straley

Lono said at July 2, 2009 9:07 AM:

Heh Heh - Agreed!

I'm sure the sheeple will find some other Bread and Circuses tho - maybe Death Race.


But Randall - I also agree with you - I mean is it really going to be less egalitarian when almost all dedicated individuals can decide to enhance their body to competitive heights - rather than now when just the minority wild types are able to compete on such a level?

Imho it would be a much Better world!

"I am here to ask you a question: Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?

No, says the man in Washington! It belongs to the poor.
No, says the man in the Vatican! It belongs to God.
No, says the man in Moscow! It belongs to everyone.

I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different.

I chose the impossible.

I chose... Rapture, a city where the artist would not fear the censor, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, where the great would not be constrained by the small!"

- Andrew Ryan (2007)

Jim Walker said at July 2, 2009 9:30 AM:

I'll quote a line from the movie Fred Claus for you:
"let's get together and make some bad decisions together."

My friend, the issue has less to do with performance and more to do with uneducated abuse.

When you are in the game you'll do anything to improve. This leads to some terribly bad decision making. As an athlete you see the other guy buffing up and find out he's taking hormone X... "Hey, he looks fine, and since it's working for him I know I can handle it..."

Because there is no regulated or safe, by law, application of these hormones, this type of personality will take the short term advantage over the long term affects associated with them (particularly in respect to self dosing applications of steroids, hormones, et al).

I argue, people are not cars... and they sometimes make bad decisions that may affect themselves and their sport in bad ways. Which is why we have sports health regulators, DEA, and others for very good reason.

Even the Military, crazy on enhancing soldier performance, won't touch this-- so little is understood as to the long term consequences of these enhancements.

A quick ref on HGH affects for example:


Jim S said at July 2, 2009 11:24 AM:

As a guy who has spent the last 20+ years sitting in a wheelchair waiting on stuff like this, people moaning about how my cure could inconvenience their sport gripes my butt.

PatrickH said at July 2, 2009 1:46 PM:

Athletes are willing to do long-term damage to themselves to achieve victory, glory, money, even honour. Health is no more a concern to athletes competing at the highest levels of sport than is, say, "Think of the children!". That stuff is for sports journalists and public health totalitarians. Athletes often die young, not from hormone use, but from the battering their bodies take in training and competition. By Jim W's logic, we should ban sports that damage health if trained for too hard or competed in too vigorously.

The underlying context of performance enhancement is the biggest uncovered story in sports: across events, whether running, jumping, swimming, lifting, throwing, short-distance sprints, long-distance enduros and everything in between, humanity is nearing, at, or beyond the limits of unaugmented human performance. World records in sport after sport are falling more rarely and by smaller increments. The S-shaped log curve governs every sport in which accomplishment is quantifiable. "Unaugmented" performance means performance not enhanced by the use of either pharmaceuticals or prostheses. Real advances in world records in sport are increasingly only going to come from enhancements of these two types.

Prosthetic enhancement, broadly understood, can be anything from improvement in competitive uniforms (swim trunks, shoes), competitive environments (bouncier track surfaces, less turbulent swimming pools)--basically technological extensions or modifications of the human body and its immediate environment. Pharmaceutical enhancement is of course, stuff like steroids, EPO, MGF, and later, currently undeveloped compounds that enhance performance.

And this will not go away. There will always exist an ever-growing incentive for athletes to use prostheses (easily regulated because of their visibility) and pharms, not so easily regulated at all. Performance enhancing drug use in sports is here to stay. It's a necessary response to the fact that we are already plumbing the limits of the natural wild (I like Randall's phrase) human body.

And this, I would submit, is pretty much all good, anti-drug anti-hormone mythological ooga-booga notwithstanding. If athletes want to be guinea pigs for substances that might have all sorts of beneficial non-athletic uses, then I say Let Them! And besides, it's the only way we're going to keep seeing progress in performance.

Doug said at July 2, 2009 4:17 PM:

Pro sports are only interesting as long as we can identify with the players, or sort of credibly imagine that there is some sort of real association with "our" city or town. I for one just cannot get interested in watching a freakshow, with ridiculously overpaid, obviously steroid-laden Neo-Neanderthals pretending to be just unusually talented regular guys. It becomes meaningless, or more meaningless, if you know what I mean. In some cities you cannot take your kids to a game, as the crowd is not "family-friendly" and neither are the prices.

Minor-league baseball may be the last "real" sport left. Watching sports on TV with your kids is not much better, with all the R-rated commercials. "Men! Are you a dud in the sack? Just buy this stuff, and ..." blah, blah. "Daddy, why were those people doing that on TV?"

Pro sports are on so many fronts overextended, like Bear Stearns and Lehman brothers were.

qwerty said at July 2, 2009 4:48 PM:

"New ways for athletes to boost their performance? Don't we want them to improve?"

We care about how they improve. A quarterback with a biomechanical arm would be a bad idea, for reasons any lover of sport can understand. I guess that excludes you.

Randall Parker said at July 2, 2009 6:16 PM:


When a bunch of major league baseball players started becoming all juiced up and hitting lots of home runs at ages where they'd normally be suffering declining performance baseball fans loved it. It went on for years.

So spare me the high and mighty superiority. It is bullshit.


Lots of people tune in for professional wrestling freak shows.

Brian said at July 2, 2009 6:41 PM:

The comparison to car (or hydroplane) racing is interesting. Many of the auto racing organizations are standardizing critical portions of the vehicle, restrictor plates on the intake manifolds, standardized engines, disallowing active and/or passive downdraft techniques. The exception to this was the old Can-Am races.

Hydroplane racing is a handy comparison. it's still actually racing, the races are won largely by the richest teams, small improvements in technology provide a huge advantage. The result is the same teams win all the races, and a team that only has a good driver, or a lucky day can no longer take the race. The racing has become less popular as this transition came about. correlation or causality... I'm not prepared to argue.

This kind of funding however could move medical advancement in the same way racing has advanced the automobile.

Randall Parker said at July 2, 2009 8:02 PM:


Professional teams using biotech to beat their competitors would accelerate the rate of advance of biotechnology. So I like the idea.

Imagine the Olympics allowed genetic enhancement. The Chinese, Russians, and others would spend fortunes to win.

Sigfried said at July 3, 2009 12:56 AM:

What Jim S. said. My mother could benefit enormously-regain mobility-and the whole discussion is based on hype about athletics. Worry about the damn sports usage later. Support helping Jim and my mother instead of obsessing over the wild world of sports. This is for people with muscle wastage, a very unpleasant condition that happens to good people all across the planet.

Jasper N Zebby said at July 3, 2009 6:35 AM:

It just goes to show, that there's two kinds of people in this world... Those who think it's OK to take performance enhancing drugs and those who don't. One thing about wheelchairs is that you get to roll around on wheels. That's kind of cool.

Jack Sprat said at July 9, 2009 5:36 PM:

I don't like the idea of nations with sufficient wealth and scientific expertise dominating international sports competition, even though I guess it's already happening. Totally against the spirit of the Olympics. I like seeing the underdog competitors come in with a 'wild card' win.

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