Washington: A new study now sees researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston developing a promising drug that has proven to significantly increase muscle size, strength and metabolic state in aged mice.
The study was published in Biochemical Pharmacology.
Studies say that our bodies increasingly lose the ability to repair and rebuild degenerating skeletal muscles as we age.
Beginning around age 35, muscle mass, strength and function continually decline as we get older. This can dramatically limit the ability of older adults to live fully active and independent lives.
Now scientists have identified a protein in muscle stem cells that appears to be responsible for their age-related dysfunction, and then developed a small molecule drug that limits the effects of this protein. They have do so by resetting muscle stem cells to a more youthful state and rejuvenating them so that they could more effectively repair muscle tissues.
In the study, aged mice with a muscle injury were treated with either the drug or a placebo. Following seven days of drug treatment, researchers found that the aged mice that received the drug had more functional muscle stem cells that were actively repairing the injured muscle.
In the treated group, muscle fibre size doubled, and muscle strength increased by 70 per cent, compared with the placebo group. In addition, the blood chemistry of the drug-treated and untreated mice was similar, suggesting no adverse drug effects were occurring.
In the next decade, the US elderly population will increase by 40 per cent and the cost of their health care is expected to double, accounting for over half of all US health care spending. Much of this spending will be used to treat health problems related to muscle decline, including hip fractures, falls and heart disease.
Speaking about it, senior author Harshini Neelakantan said, “There are no treatments currently available to delay, arrest or reverse age-related muscle degeneration,” adding, “These initial results support the development of an innovative drug treatment that has the potential to help the elderly to become fitter, faster and stronger, thus enabling them to live more active and independent lives as they age.”