Scientists find positive results in new drug to combat loss of muscle strength

Kevin Magna

August 4, 2011

One of the unavoidable symptoms of aging is sarcopenia, which is when the skeletal muscles begin to weaken. Sarcopenia often sets in around the age of 40 and progresses gradually until an individual reaches 75, at which point the symptoms begin to progress much more rapidly. Weakened muscles may contribute to the higher risk of falls for seniors, and a senior alert system can be purchased to make sure that elders are able to get help in the event of an accident or injury.

Scientists at the Columbia University Medical Center have found new information about the muscular degeneration, which may lead to the development of a successful treatment to deter its effects.

They tested an experimental drug on mice that were the equivalent of 70-year-old humans and found that the animals given the drug showed marked improvements in muscle strength and endurance, especially compared to the control group.

"Most investigators in the field of aging have been saying that the way to improve muscle strength is to build muscle mass, using such therapies as testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor-1," says Dr. Marks. "But an increase in muscle mass is not necessarily accompanied by an increase in muscle function."