An 'anti-frailty' pill for seniors could be in the pipeline - the pill which increases muscle mass in arms and legs of older adults is the brainchild of researchers at the University of Virginia Health System.
They say a single daily oral dose of an investigational drug, MK-677, increased muscle mass in the arms and legs of healthy older adults without serious side effects and they say it may prove safe and effective in reducing age-related frailty.
A study by the team has shown that levels of growth hormone (GH) and of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF- I) in seniors who took MK-677 increased to those found in healthy young adults and the drug restored 20% of muscle mass loss associated with normal aging.
Dr. Michael O. Thorner, a researcher known for his work on growth hormone regulation, says the study opens the door to the possibility of developing treatments that avert the frailty of aging.
Dr. Thorner a professor of internal medicine and neurosurgery at UVA says the search for anti-frailty medications has become increasingly important because the average American is expected to live into his or her 80s, and most seniors want to stay strong enough to remain independent as they age.
The two-year study involved 65 men and women ranging in age from 60 to 81.
MK-677 mimics the action of ghrelin, a peptide that stimulates the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR) and drug developers are focusing on GHSR because it plays an important role in the regulation of growth hormone and appetite - they suspect it may prove to be an excellent treatment target for metabolic disorders such as those related to body weight and body composition.
According to Dr. Thorner, the UVA research was a "proof-of-concept" study that sets the stage for a larger and longer clinical trial to determine whether MK-677 is effective in people who are frail and to assess its long term safety.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the research is published in the current issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.