A newly created antibody could treat the decline in muscle mass and power associated with ageing, show results of a phase-two trial by an international research team.
The 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, the findings showed.
“Myostatin is a natural protein produced within the body that inhibits muscle growth,” said one of the researchers Stuart Warden from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, US.
“It has been hypothesised 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.
In the study, injections of a myostatin antibody, made by US-based Eli Lilly and Co, over a 24-week period resulted in 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 ageing, it is lost more rapidly than muscle strength, contributing to disability, falls, reduced quality of life and, in some instances, death,” Warden explained.
He said “the current 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 ageing”.
“This is an important and exciting first step,” Warden noted in an official statement.