Medical Breakthrough: Drugs to Help Elderly Rebuild Muscle
Pharmaceutical companies are working to make drugs that could help elderly patients walk again and rebuild muscle in a range of diseases. This new development began after scientist Se-Jin Lee genetically engineered “Mighty Mice” with twice as much muscle as regular rodents in 1997.
Myostatin is a naturally occurring protein that curbs muscle growth. The drugs act by blocking it, or blocking the sites where it is detected in the body, potentially rebuilding muscle. The ultimate prize for these drugs would be in treating the elderly, although some researchers believe that the drugs could even be used to treat obesity and Type 2 diabetes one day.
Experts say muscle wasting and Alzheimer’s—the decline in physical and cognitive functions, respectively—are the two major causes of institutionalization among the elderly. By improving muscle strength, the drugs can help the elderly combat the natural frailty that comes with aging. The drugs can also be used for elderly patients undergoing hip replacements or those recovering from falls.
This medical breakthrough can have a tremendous impact on the elderly population. With healthcare and long term care professionals preparing for an increase in the aging population in the coming years, the timing is impeccable for such a valuable drug.
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