Researchers developing anti-frailty pill for elders


Washington : A daily dose of an experimental drug has increased muscle mass in the arms and legs of healthy older adults, sans serious side-effects, suggesting that it may be effective in reducing frailty.

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The new study showed that levels of growth hormone (GH) and of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) in seniors who took MK-677 increased to that of healthy young adults. The drug restored 20 percent of muscle mass loss linked with ageing.

“Our study opens the door to the possibility of developing treatments that avert the frailty of ageing,” explained Michael O. Thorner, professor of internal medicine and neurosurgery at University of Virginia (UVA).

“The search for anti-frailty medications has become increasingly important because the average American is expected to live into his or her 80s, and most seniors want to stay strong enough to remain independent as they age,” he added.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the two-year study involved 65 men and women ranging in age from 60 to 81.

MK-677 mimics the action of ghrelin, a peptide that stimulates the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR). Drug developers are focusing on GHSR because it plays an important role in the regulation of growth hormone and appetite.

Researchers think it may prove to be an excellent treatment target for metabolic disorders such as those related to body weight and body composition, according to an UVA release.

UVA research was a “proof-of-concept” study that sets the stage for a larger and longer clinical trial to determine whether MK-677 is effective in people who are frail and to assess its long term safety, said Thorner.

These findings were published in Tuesday’s issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.