Asthma drugs could reverse muscle wasting, weakness

October 15th, 2008 - 12:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 15 (IANS) A group of drugs prescribed for asthma may help reverse muscle wasting and weakness associated with ageing. The research that showed this could lead to therapeutic strategies to slow the effects of ageing on muscle function and restore muscle size and strength in frail elderly people.

James Ryall of Melbourne University department of physiology focussed on a group of drugs called beta-agonists, known for their effect in treating asthma but which can also specifically improve muscle growth and strength.

His research showed that under some circumstances beta-agonists could actually reverse muscle wasting and weakness in aged rats - which experience age-related muscle changes similar to those seen in humans.

Head of physiology’s basic & clinical myology lab, Gordon Lynch, who supervised Ryall’s work, described his research as a significant contribution to understanding ageing and its effects on skeletal muscle, according to a Melbourne University release. The findings were published in Physiological Reviews.

“Age-related muscle wasting, and an associated weakness called sarcopenia, affects everyone and does not discriminate based on ethnicity, gender, or wealth,” said Lynch.

“The size and strength of our muscles can decline to such an extent that it becomes difficult to perform even the simplest activities of everyday living.”

“We may no longer, for instance, be able to get up from a chair, walk up a flight of stairs, or even maintain the ability to feed and take care of ourselves,” he said.

“Muscle wasting can deprive a person of functional independence and increase their risk of falls and fractures. It is one of ageing’s most serious consequences,” Lynch said.

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