Dr. Clinton T. Rubin, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and Director for Center for Biotechnology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, is reporting that mice placed on a platform that buzzes for 15 minutes a day, five days a week have 27 percent less fat than mice that did not stand on the platform. More importantly, the mice had correspondingly more bone.
All he did was put the mice on a platform that vibrated at such a low frequency that some people could not even feel it. “I was the biggest skeptic in the world,” Dr. Rubin said. “And I sit here and say, ‘This can’t possibly be happening.’ I feel like the credibility of my scientific career is sitting on a razor’s edge.”
Many researchers and scientists are enthusiastic, while many others are skeptical. The mice may be less fat after standing on the platform, these researchers say, but they are not convinced of the explanation — that fat precursor cells are turning into bone.
Even so, the National Institutes of Health is sufficiently intrigued to investigate the effect in a clinical trial in elderly people, said Joan A. McGowan, a division director at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Dr. McGowan notes that Dr. Rubin is a respected scientist and that her institute has helped pay for his research for the past 20 years, but she along with many other researchers caution against jumping to any conclusions.
“I’d call it provocative,” she said of the new result. “It says, ‘Keep looking here; this is exciting.’ But it is crucial that we don’t oversell this.” For now, she added, “it is a fundamental scientific finding.”
The story of the finding, which was published online and will appear in the Nov. 6 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, began in 1981 when Dr. Rubin and his colleagues started asking why bone is lost in aging and inactivity. “Bone is notorious for ‘use it or lose it,’” Dr. Rubin said. “Astronauts lose 2 percent of their bone a month. People lose 2 percent a decade after age