A Switch For Muscle Atrophy

Via AScribe, news of a possible new approach to preventing age-related muscle atrophy: "muscle weakness caused by atrophy during aging can lead to serious falls and bone loss. Exercise is the most beneficial strategy to treat atrophy. However, many individuals are too ill to adequately participate in exercise programs. We've found a chemical 'switch' in the body that allows us to turn atrophy on, and, from that, we also have learned how to turn atrophy off ... The Merg1a protein is a channel that normally passes a small electrical current across the cell. The researchers implanted a gene into the skeletal muscle that resulted in a mutant form of this protein that combines with the normal protein and stops the current. The researchers found that the mutant protein would inhibit atrophy." Nice work; other groups are also looking into ways to halt or reverse age-related muscle loss, or sarcopenia.

Link: http://newswire.ascribe.org/cgi-bin/behold.pl?ascribeid=20060524.111825

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