Scientists say they have obtained promising results from a Phase 2 trial of a treatment against the decline in muscle mass and power associated with aging.
The “proof-of-concept” trial examined the prospects for a myostatin antibody, a drug designed to counter the effects of a protein that scientists see as a culprit in muscle decline.
“Myostatin is a natural protein produced within the body that inhibits muscle growth,” said Stuart Warden, a member of the research team, with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
“It has been hypothesized for some time that inhibition of myostatin may allow muscle to grow, resulting in improved muscle mass and physical performance. The current study confirms” that.
Warden said the 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 aging.” He added: “This is an important and exciting first step.”
The researchers reported that injections of a myostatin antibody made by Eli Lilly and Co., over a 24-week period, led to 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 aging, it is lost more rapidly than muscle strength, contributing to disability, falls, reduced quality of life and, in some instances, death.”
“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,” Warden said. “Treatment particularly benefited those who were most frail” at the outset.