"Long before it's in the papers"
December 29, 2015


“Promising” findings for treatment of age-related muscle decline

Dec. 29, 2015
Courtesy of Indiana University
and World Science staff

Scientists say they have ob­tained prom­is­ing re­sults from a Phase 2 tri­al of a treat­ment against the de­cline in mus­cle mass and pow­er as­so­ci­at­ed with ag­ing.

The “proof-of-concept” tri­al ex­am­ined the prospects for a myo­statin an­ti­body, a drug de­signed to count­er the ef­fects of a pro­tein that sci­en­tists see as a culprit in mus­cle de­cline.

“Myo­statin is a nat­u­ral pro­tein pro­duced with­in the body that in­hibits mus­cle growth,” said Stu­art Ward­en, a mem­ber of the re­search team, with In­di­ana Un­ivers­ity-Purdue Un­ivers­ity In­di­an­apolis. 

“It has been hy­poth­e­sized for some time that in­hi­bi­tion of myo­statin may al­low mus­cle to grow, re­sult­ing in im­proved mus­cle mass and phys­i­cal per­for­mance. The cur­rent study con­firms” that.

Ward­en said the study “pro­vides proof-of-concept ev­i­dence to pro­ceed to the larg­er stud­ies that are re­quired to dem­on­strate wheth­er myo­statin an­ti­body treat­ment im­proves qual­ity of life and re­duces falls and their con­se­quenc­es dur­ing ag­ing.” He added: “This is an im­por­tant and ex­cit­ing first step.”

The re­search­ers re­ported that in­jec­tions of a myo­statin an­ti­body made by Eli Lilly and Co., over a 24-week pe­ri­od, led to an in­crease in lean mus­cle mass and im­proved per­for­mance on tasks re­quir­ing mus­cle pow­er in pa­tients old­er than 75 with low mus­cle strength, low mus­cle per­for­mance and a his­to­ry of fall­ing.

“This is the first study to show that myo­statin an­ti­body treat­ment im­proves per­for­mance on ac­ti­vi­ties re­quir­ing mus­cle pow­er,” Ward­en said. “‘­Mus­cle pow­er’ refers to the abil­ity to gen­er­ate mus­cle force quick­ly. Dur­ing ag­ing, it is lost more rap­idly than mus­cle strength, con­tri­but­ing to dis­abil­ity, falls, re­duced qual­ity of life and, in some in­stances, death.”

“Myo­statin an­ti­body treat­ment im­proved mus­cle pow­er in the eld­er­ly, as in­di­cat­ed by im­prove­ments in the abil­ity to climb stairs, walk briskly and rise re­pet­i­tively from a chair,” Ward­en said. “Treat­ment par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fit­ed those who were most frail” at the out­set.

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Researchers say they have obtained promising results from a Phase 2 trial of a treatment against the decline in muscle mass and power associated with aging. The “proof-of-concept” trial examined the prospects for a myostatin antibody, a drug designed to counter the effects of a protein called myostatin that scientists believe to be a source of muscle decline. “Myostatin is a natural protein produced within the body that inhibits muscle growth,” said Stuart Warden, a member of the research team, with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. “It has been hypothesized for some time that inhibition of myostatin may allow muscle to grow, resulting in improved muscle mass and physical performance. The current study confirms these beliefs.” Warden said the study “provides proof-of-concept evidence to proceed to the larger studies that are required to demonstrate whether myostatin antibody treatment improves quality of life and reduces falls and their consequences during aging.” He added: “This is an important and exciting first step.” The researchers reported that injections of a myostatin antibody made by Eli Lilly and Co., over a 24-week period, led to an increase in lean muscle mass and improved performance on tasks requiring muscle power in patients older than 75 with low muscle strength, low muscle performance and a history of falling. “This is the first study to show that myostatin antibody treatment improves performance on activities requiring muscle power,” Warden said. “‘Muscle power’ refers to the ability to generate muscle force quickly. During aging, it is lost more rapidly than muscle strength, contributing to disability, falls, reduced quality of life and, in some instances, death.” “Myostatin antibody treatment improved muscle power in the elderly, as indicated by improvements in the ability to climb stairs, walk briskly and rise repetitively from a chair,” Warden said. “Treatment particularly benefited those who were most frail” at the outset.