How to Go About Using Myostatin Antibodies to Grow Muscle Today

Lower levels of myostatin activity, achieved either through genetic engineering or blockade via antibodies, cause muscle growth. In the former case, where individuals lack functional myostatin throughout their lives, the result is lot of additional muscle growth; twice as much muscle tissue, or more. In the latter case the effects are smaller, but still significant. A short course of myostatin antibody treatment in mice added 20% extra muscle mass, and in humans a six month trial in elderly people added a measurable amount of additional muscle, while improving functional measures that typically decline dramatically in later age. There are a range of animal species in which it is possible to find established heavily muscled lineages with myostatin loss of function mutations of one sort or another: dogs, cows, and mice, the mutation either naturally occurring or created in the laboratory. There are even a few humans in the naturally occurring category.

Given the large numbers of myostatin-deficient animals, the extensive data on those animals, and results from human trials and the run up to those trials, it seems that manipulating one's own myostatin activity as an enhancement is something to look into for the near future. As in why don't we set out to try this today? Extra muscle with no effort is probably a nice to have for the younger folk in the audience, but the real application here is as a compensatory therapy to meaningfully delay the onset of physical frailty in older age. It doesn't solve any of the underlying issues that cause loss of muscle mass and strength with age, but it does appear to help a great deal more than other approaches are likely to at the present time, and is additive with those approaches. Young people can always substitute time and willpower for technology on the additional muscle front, but that option fades in effectiveness in later life - the returns on investment diminish greatly as age-related degeneration accelerates.

Viable myostatin or related follistatin and smad7 gene therapies for adults are a few years away yet, I think, pending a robust solution to tissue coverage. Methodologies must be developed to reliably ensure that therapies edit the genome in enough cells to be effective, but this is a challenge for everyone in the industry. It will not go unsolved for long now that CRISPR-based gene editing is a going concern. Still, a few years from now is not today. The antibody approach on the other hand is something that could be carried out today, if you had a reliable supply, dosage information, and the necessary materials to self-administer via injections. Give this list of ingredients, all of which are out there, I'm fairly certain that a range of individuals are already quietly doing exactly this. It will be the usual suspects, a mix of professional athletes and forward-thinking folk with laboratory experience and access. So why not forward-thinking older people as well?

The immediate raw materials to hand consist of research papers, study results, and suppliers of myostatin antibodies. From the research papers and study results one can obtain the particular brand of antibodies used and the dosages and treatment duration. There are a number of suppliers, such as Abcam, or take your pick of the dozens of others. Not all of which are providing a product that is appropriately useful in this context, of course. Not all suppliers sell to just anyone in this modern world of regulations and the drug war, either. Ideally you would pick the same antibody source as was used in one or more papers, and for preference the exact one used in a human trial. Human trials, however, have a way of being associated with specific companies, and they will probably be making their own, or exclusively licensing someone else's product. Regardless, there are choices, and a choice can be made. But most importantly, one has to verify that the supplier is actually delivering something that works.

At this point it would be prudent to obtain access to a laboratory and run tests. In our community there are a number of groups with the connections to kick that off. Let us say, for the sake of argument, a group buy organized by Longecity with additional fundraising to pay for the labs used by the Major Mouse Testing Program to validate that the product works in mice. There are three or four other organizations that could substitute in for either of those. The testing could even be structured to obtain useful scientific data in older mice, perhaps, which is something that seems a little less well exercised than the use of myostatin antibodies in younger mice. Overall that should not cost more than a few tens of thousands of dollars if picking a thrifty organization, and nor should it take more than a few months once the money is in hand.

There are matters other than the purely technical to be dealt with, however. Somewhere along the way the aforementioned prudent individual will engage a lawyer or two to figure out which part of buying the antibodies and injection kits and then self-administering is illegal or otherwise risky in the present jurisdiction. This will probably cost as much as the testing, which is a sad statement on the priorities of this fallen world of ours. This is the drug war age, and anything involving needles and biotechnology that falls outside the bounds of medical practice is at the least something that will raise the odds of attention from unwanted quarters. No purchase goes unmonitored for some types of apparatus, and injection kits are no doubt on that list. Further, everything involving medicine tends these days to operate on a forbidden unless explicitly allowed model, more is the pity. So all in all there is, as ever, a large difference between what one can do with little effort and what is prudent to do on one's own, without support or forethought.

Still, it seems to me that this is a viable project to explore further. The technology appears to have a good expectation of positive results given the human and extensive animal data to date, provided that the right tools are used, and there is a lot of data to establish dosages and the right products to use. The plausible worst outcome from an investigation of the legalities is likely to be along the lines of "contract the injecting to a clinic in Mexico or Canada." The whole exercise of research and validation outlined above is well within the capability of a motivated group of people pitching in a few thousand dollars each. The parts where it might cheerfully fall apart are in the cost of the desired antibodies, or in establishing a relationship with a supplier willing to go along with a group of people who are self-administering. That will no doubt make their legal teams nervous. It might be necessary to add an intermediary clinic or laboratory to the mix regardless of the formal legal status of the activities.

But you don't know unless you try.


I'm no expert, but I'm not too sure antibodies with all their verification problems and production expense in Bioreactors are the way to go.

I read last year about how advances in DNA aptamer technology had led to aptamers that have high affinity for antigens and are stable in human serum for long enough to have a therapeutic effect.

I'm wondering if it is possible for a biohacker with sufficient knowledge to produce and validate such DNA aptamers against Myostatin at home? This would get around the problem of needing a professional lab to produce antibodies.

I gave $20 to an team who were looking to produce an edible version of the protein insulin by producing it in microalgae and producing the insulin inside the chloroplasts by modifying the chloroplast DNA. The thick walls of the chloroplasts allow the insulin protein to survive the proteases and acidic environment of the stomach and reach the lower intestine for absorption into the body.

It might be hard to traffic or produce a DNA aptamer in a chloroplast, but you could also try producing a short antibody like protein Darpin instead.

An interesting article by The Scientist magazine on antibody alternatives:

Posted by: Jim at October 4th, 2016 9:29 PM

What's the NEXT BEST THING? I'm 74 and need results. When I was young, I could bench press and squat with 300 lbs and deadlift 400 lbs at 160 lbs bodyweight. I've been lifting again for the past 7 or 8 years and can't even reach my previous WARM-UP POUNDAGE of 135 lbs.
So, is there a next best thing to injections of anti-myostatin antibodies like ATA 842? I've been trying to suppress myostatin with the catechins and epicatechins in certain foods like apples (peels, mainly), very dark chocolate, green tea, dark grapes, blueberries, blackberries etc. but they don't seem to be very effective. Any advice will be appreciated.

Posted by: Anthony Brady at October 31st, 2018 3:32 PM

I don't know if this will help you with your goals, but if you are eating apple peels for the ursolic acid another source is tulsi / holy basil tea. It's anxiolytic and can cause sleepiness, so it is better to drink it before bed. Fenugreek is reputed to increase strength. I eat fenugreek sprouts in salad or in green smoothies (tastes foul in those). It makes my sweat smell like maple syrup; can't say I've noticed a big difference in what I can lift. I'm posting this since you seem interested in functional foods; there are, of course, less safe but perhaps more effective ways to improve performance... but that's what we have while we wait for rejuvenation therapies. The best thing right now is to just keep going to the gym.

Posted by: CD at November 1st, 2018 11:40 AM

Just to clarify - if people want to try the myostatin antibody therapy, then that's great and I hope they find a way. I'm a bit more risk averse, but I would probably change my mind about it if I started to experience the rapid muscle wasting my father experienced as a result of severe non-diabetic neuropathy - which I have symptoms of now, but still mild.

Posted by: CD at November 1st, 2018 12:00 PM

The apples are for the catechins which are mainly concentrated in the peel. I've found out recently that most chocolate is contaminated with heavy metals such as cadmium and lead - especially the chocolate from Africa. That includes ALL the well known brands including Hershey's, Trader Joe's, Nestle, Ghiardelii, Lindt etc. An outfit called ConsumerLab seems to be the main testing authority on cocoa contamination. So, I've given up on eating chocolate.

But, I did go over to the local health foods store and bought a bottle of EGCg by NOW. EGCg is a major polyphenol in green tea and chocolate. I'll have to get my catechins and epicatechins from green tea sources since food sources are contaminated and I probably couldn't consume enough food to create a difference.

This product is standardized to 80% catechins and 50% EGCg. That should help to suppress the myostatin that is keeping me from my well deserved gains and reduce the inflammation that keeps follistatin lowered. But, even this source of catechins can be dangerous.

It's like the ephedrine that people were over-consuming years ago for weight loss and getting all sorts of medical issues. Too much green tea extract can cause liver damage. I guess the maximum safe dosage is about 400 mg to 500 mg daily. On my bottle it says ONE 400mg tablet daily. Another website has slightly higher recommended dosages.

So, it'll be interesting to see how this new experiment works out. I suspect that I couldn't eat enough foods that contain catechins to make much of a difference but I have noticed SOME gains. Maybe by taking the catechins in concentrated form like pills will give me more of a boost in muscle size. After all, one 400 mg pill is equivalent to drinking 5 to 10 cups of green tea daily.

I've tried the fenugreek and pygeum and every other so-called testosterone booster ever made. If they were going to work then they should show results on an old codger like me who has such a low T level due to advanced age (74). I never noticed any increase in testosterone from all those supplements. So, I keep looking and learning and trying new things. At my age, what have I got to lose? If I do nothing then I'll die in a few years anyway. If I find something that works then I'll increase my quality of life for many more years and I'll be able to beat all those old farts at the New York Senior Games in the shotput and discus events.

Posted by: Anthony Brady at November 1st, 2018 4:30 PM

I'll have to try the high-dose catechins. I do consume matcha from Kyoto (supposedly a clean source); I can't drink too much or I get an upset stomach. Usually I drink it with either citric acid (lemon/lime) or ascorbic acid since they are supposed to boost bioavailability of EGCG. Xylitol is also reported to increase EGCG bioavailability and may have anabolic properties of its own (for bone at least, and muscle and bone seem to go together). I tried xylitol and I got terrible flatulence and my Boggle game seemed to suffer, so I gave it up.

As far as contaminants go, there are those who believe whole foods more likely to be safer than supps, but I think it really depends on the particular item. I tend to look at epidemiological data for foods and for supplements I try to go for the more popular ones on the assumption that if thousands of people are taking something then there will likely be case reports of adverse events if there are major contaminant issues. I have been thinking about joining Consumer Labs since consumer sponsored testing is a concept I support. IIRC CocoaVia tested okay on cadmium, and my stomach can vouch for its high polyphenol content (a whole pouch causes stomach upset).

It's funny that fenugreek has a reputation for being both a testosterone-booster and a bust enhancer. I consume it since a study found diosgenin may increase myelination (1). The causes of sarcopenia are not yet well-understood, but loss of myelin may play a role. Demyelination was definitely a factor for my father as he had Multiple System Atrophy (cerebellar type). He also had significant sensory neuropathy (which some say is not a feature of the disease, though ~40% of MSA patients have it), and of course autonomic neuropathy. They also say MSA isn't hereditary, but I'm having the same neuropathy symptoms, but no gait problems or other cerebellar degeneration symptoms. The muscle wasting followed the sensory neuropathy.

1 -

You sound like you are doing great and could keep going for quite some time - probably long enough to see some 'real' rejuvenation therapies become widely available. :)

Posted by: CD at November 2nd, 2018 10:15 AM

I know this is now an old post but I recently read about a company, Symvivo, developing a gene therapy platform using bacteria.

They genetically engineer bacteria that reside in the gut with plasmids with a protein attached to them that causes the plasmids to leave the bacterial cells and enter the gut lining cells, whereby the protein encoded in the plasmid is then expressed. They are initially going to use this to produce the COVID-19 spike protein to enable an oral room temperature stable vaccine. But this approach could also be used to produce antibodies or antibody fragments.

It is beyond my current knowledge to transfect bacteria to do this, but one day someone could pirate this technology to get the gut to produce anti myostatin antibodies to reduce frailty in the old and perhaps enhance althetic performance and help lose weight and gain muscle mass in the young.

This would be much simpler to achieve than BioVivia/Liz Parish's follistatin gene therapy in Colombia with AAV.

Posted by: jimofoz at June 13th, 2021 7:10 AM
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