1. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Offering my medical expertise

    Discussion in 'Research' started by CGB, Feb 13, 2015.

    Hello all, I just wanted to put this out there. I am an American M.D. student with a master's degree in human physiology and I wouldn't mind helping give advice on fictional medical situations and hypotheticals for your stories. I am getting ready to take my board exams soon and won't be around too much, but I often procrastinate studying late at night to traipse about the internet on my favorite message boards.
     
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  2. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ok these are completely out there, and unlikely to be subjects covered in your standard degree, but you might have some insight into them (these relate to a sci-fi piece I am working on): -
    • Are eye transplants a possibility? I assume that nerve regeneration is the issue, but is it one that can realistically be overcome in the near future?
    • This is an odd one. Is it physiologically possible to increase muscle density via a medical procedure or drugs (i.e. could someone become stronger without lifting weights)? I know steroids have this effect, but I mean a swift procedure or swift course of drugs that can significantly increase strength.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2015
  3. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    1. With pluripotent stem cell research, it is possible in the future. The near future? I doubt it. I would suspect many autograftic transplant procedures developed from such research would first target organs that aren't so incredibly complex in terms of their integration with the central nervous system. There are so many neural pathways that mediate the various components of visual processing that the limiting factor here wouldn't just be the ability to regenerate the optic nerve. Although the reality is that this might be futile. I would suspect there would be a much more simple way to restore vision in the future using applications from the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence.

    2. Depends what you mean by "density." There is no way to actually gain an increased number myocytes (muscle cells) because these types of cells are thought to be senescent (meaning they stop dividing - which is one reason why heart attacks are so bad, once you destroy cardiac muscle cells you cannot get them back - same thing with skeletal muscle).

    If you mean the literal definition of density (mass per unit volume), then yes there are numerous ways both legal and illegal. You can't get more muscle cells (hyperplasia), but the ones you can can undergo hypertrophy.
    Off the top of my head, substances like creatine monohydrate and hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate will increase muscle density but of course it wouldn't be all that much without resistance training and more importantly an anabolic diet. Actually the working out/lifting weights part of gaining muscle mass is a very minor component compared to dietary considerations.

    Other ways to increase muscle mass without going to the gym would include taking androgenic steroids i.e. exogenous forms of testosterone, human growth hormone, trenbolone, boldenone (a veterinary steroid), and lots of other stuff. Actually body builders and atheletes have pretty much tried every single human and veterinary steroid known to mankind. Of course, there are a myriad of drawbacks to these approaches: reversible and irreversible hypogonadism, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and some extremely serious neuropsychiatric problems, among other things.
     
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  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That's fascinating information, @CGB.

    Here's a bit more basic reply. Besides density, the question of making a muscle larger: muscle transplants are possible. The question would be, are they worth the cost of immunosuppression if the donor is other than you (a distant body site which is currently done) or your identical twin (not a likely donor)? So as CGB notes, no one is investing in making one's muscles larger with transplantation, but replacing lost muscle is done. For example, arm transplants have been successful and they involve muscles of course. In addition, toes are transplanted to make fingers, again, including muscle transplantation.

    So for muscles, it is possible. If you have to overcome tissue rejection, that's a very costly thing.

    Eye transplants are not currently possible but might be in the near future. Some nerve regeneration occurs with the nerves distal to the spinal cord and brain. But those are the patient's own nerves regrowing. We cannot yet splice nerves. With a limb transplant you have to wait for the nerves to regrow.

    Nerve regeneration of the optic nerve and spinal cord are not yet possible but the science is getting closer.

    Looking Ahead: Whole Eye Transplant Under Development

    Free functional muscle transplant [Free as in a muscle segment, not as in financial cost.]
     
  5. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks very much for these. I'll get rid of the eye transplant as it was not entirely necessary anyway.

    creatine monohydrate- I used to take that stuff in my gym days to speed recovery (or at least it was labelled creatine). In fact I seem to remember a gym mate having heart palpations and the hospital measuring high levels of creatine and suspecting a major issue with his heart (of course it transpired that he had ingested it rather than his body releasing it and his heart was fine). At least this is the way I remember it, I might be completely wrong.

    So as suspected, resistance training, diet, time and some drugs to help along the way are the only way to increase strength? I think there is enough here that I can invent a fast track without steroids.

    EDIT: or a transplant, but that is a little extreme for what I am after. I really just want a procedure to somehow increase strength swiftly without all the tearing and healing of fibres over months.

    ANOTHER EDIT: The reason I said density rather than size is that I do not want my characters appearing like body builders.
     
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  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Chinspinner, if you google "artifical muscle" you'll find a heap of articles about advances in creating artificial muscle fibers that are up to 100x as strong as normal human muscles. Some of these researchers are saying in the future these muscles could be transplanted into humans. Experiments have already been done in transplanting them into mice.

    Don't knock the transplant idea!
     
  7. Gawler
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    Time to build a better mouse trap!
     
  8. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    The problem being that if you were going to be made stronger, and the only option presented to you was literally to cut you back to the bone and replace all your muscles with artificial alternatives, I imagine you would decline the operation.
     
  9. CGB
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    Like I said the biological approaches may prove to be needlessly complicated when the alternatives are nano technology (reinforcing fast-twitch muscle fibers with billions of microcomputers). I could see that happening.
     

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