An anti-frailty pill for seniors?

November 4, 2008

Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System report that a daily single oral dose of an investigational drug, MK-677, increased muscle mass in the arms and legs of healthy older adults without serious side effects, suggesting that it may prove safe and effective in reducing age-related frailty.

Published in the November 4, 2008 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, the 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 those found in healthy young adults. The drug restored 20 percent of muscle mass loss associated with normal aging.

"Our study opens the door to the possibility of developing treatments that avert the frailty of aging," explains Dr. Michael O. Thorner, a nationally recognized researcher of growth hormone regulation and a professor of internal medicine and neurosurgery at 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."

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

The study drug, 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. They 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 Dr. Thorner, the 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

Source: University of Virginia Health System

Related Stories

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.