Researchers, including one of Indian origin, have developed a promising drug that significantly increases muscle size, strength and metabolic state in aged mice, and may help delay ageing process in humans.
As we age, our bodies increasingly lose the ability to repair and rebuild degenerating skeletal muscles, said researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in the US.
Beginning around age 35, muscle mass, strength and function continually decline as we get older, according to the study published in Biochemical Pharmacology.
This can dramatically limit the ability of older adults to live fully active and independent lives.
"There are no treatments currently available to delay, arrest or reverse age-related muscle degeneration," said Harshini Neelakantan, a research scientist at UTMB.
"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," Neelakantan said.
"We 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," said Stanley Watowich, an associate professor at UTMB.
"By resetting muscle stem cells to a more youthful state, we were able to rejuvenate them so that they could more effectively repair muscle tissues," Watowich said.
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.
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