Thursday, November 11, 2010

Scientists have created a ‘Mighty Mouse’ that retains its enhanced muscle bulk as it ages


Stem cell research has created a muscle mouse that could pave the way for a muscle bulk pill for muscular dystrophy and the elderly

Scientists have created a ‘Mighty Mouse’ with muscles that stay powerful as it grows old.

The breakthrough paves the way for a pill to give pensioners the strength of their youth, cutting the risk of falls and fractures in old age.

Such a drug could also benefit the young who suffer with crippling muscle-wasting diseases such as muscular dystrophy.

The experiments used stem-cell technology to beef up the muscles of mice, stopping them from withering as they aged.

Young animals with injured legs were given injections of stem cells and small pieces of muscle from healthy animals. The researchers expected the stem cells, which play a key role in repairing wear and tear, to help heal the injury. But the results far exceeded their expectations.

Not only was the injured muscle repaired within days but it quickly bulked up, reaching more than twice its original size.

And instead of withering over time, it remained large and powerful for the rest of the animal’s life.

Bradley Olwin, of the University of Colorado, said: ‘We found that the transplanted stem cells are permanently altered and reduce the ageing of the transplanted muscle, maintaining strength and mass. This was a very exciting and unexpected result.’

Stem cells are ‘blank cells’ with the ability to turn into other cell types.

In this case, it is thought that the injection of stem cells and muscle fibres enhanced the natural process of repair in the injured leg.

The researchers are checking if human stem cells have a similar effect when injected into mice.

They said: ‘If those experiments produce positive results, it would suggest that transplanting human muscle cells is feasible.’

An easier option would be creating a pill that kick-starts the stem cells normally found in muscle, the journal Science Translational Medicine reports.

A ‘muscle pill’ could also prove popular with athletes, from amateurs keen to speed up the healing of sprains to professionals anxious to be fit enough for key races.

source :dailymail

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