It is known that strong muscles are important for long and healthy life.
In older people, however, muscle mass is often decreased due to aging and diseases.
In a new study, researchers have developed a new drug that may help increase muscle size, strength, and metabolic functions.
The research was done by a team from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
Previous research has shown that as people age, their bodies increasingly lose the ability to repair and rebuild degenerating skeletal muscles.
From age 35, muscle mass, strength and function continually may start to decline. This can limit the ability of older adults to live fully active and independent lives.
In the study, the team identified a protein in muscle stem cells that may be responsible for age-related dysfunction.
They then developed a small molecule drug that limits the effects of this protein.
They found that they were able to reset muscle stem cells to a more youthful state and make them more effective to repair muscle tissues.
The researchers have tested this new drug in mice and plan to test the drug effect in humans in the future.
In mice, the team found that after just 7 days of the treatment, muscle stem cells became more functional and more active in repairing the injured muscle.
The muscle fiber size doubled, and muscle strength increased by 70%. In addition, there were no adverse drug effects was found.
The researchers suggest that the new finding may be very beneficial to older people.
Currently, adults over 65 are the fastest growing segment of the population in many countries.
In the next decade, the health care cost for the U.S. elderly population will increase by 40%.
Much of this spending will be used to treat health problems related to muscle decline, including hip fractures, falls and heart disease.
The new drug may help the elderly to become fitter, faster and stronger, and enable them to live more active and independent lives as they age.
The senior author of the study is Stanley Watowich, UTMB associate professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology.
The study is published in Biochemical Pharmacology.
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