Drug could help delay ageing in humans

Scientists have developed a new drug that they claim could delay ageing in humans. The new drug significantly increases muscle size, strength and metabolic state in aged mice and findings indicate that the drug could have an anti-ageing affect on humans.

Scientists point out that as we age, our bodies start losing the ability to repair and rebuild degenerating skeletal muscles. Muscle mass, strength and function start declining in humans at an age of 35 and they continue to decline as we get older. This can dramatically limit the ability of older adults to live fully active and independent lives.

While there are no treatments that could delay such age-related muscle degeneration, scientists have been actively looking to find ways to arrest or delay or restrict such a decline. According to one of the scientists associated with the study, their 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.

The team has 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.