Muscle wasting or weakness called as muscle atrophy in medical terms is a common problem faced by adults all over the world. As you age the condition gets more prominent especially if you belong to the sedentary lifestyle group.
Well a new research now reveals that patients suffering this problem can now find solace in a group of drugs commonly prescribed for asthma. Conducted by a team of researchers under the guidance of Dr James Ryall of the University of Melbourne’s Department of Physiology, the study shows that a batch of drugs used in asthma treatment may actually help reverse muscle wasting and weakness caused by ageing.
The scientists looked at drugs belonging to the beta-agonists group. Known best for their curative effects in asthma treatment, researchers found these drugs to have a powerful impact on skeletal muscles as well. These effects were most noticeable in improving muscle growth and strength.
The findings from Dr Ryall’s eminent research were supervised by Professor Gordon Lynch, Head of Physiology’s Basic & Clinical Myology Laboratory. He remarked, “Age-related muscle wasting, and an associated weakness called sarcopenia, affects everyone and does not discriminate based on ethnicity, gender, or wealth. 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 additionally mentioned, “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. While the exact cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying sarcopenia have yet to be identified, they are likely to be highly complex and involve multiple different signalling pathways, presenting numerous targets for novel drug discovery.”
In the course of his research, Dr Ryall discovered that when subjected to specific circumstances, beta-antagonists are capable of turning around muscle wasting and weakness. Though the research was conducted on rats, the scientist’s asserts that these results may hold true for humans as well considering rats experience age-related muscle changes similar to those seen in humans.
The expert further shows that these findings may in fact make way for therapeutic strategies that may slow the effects of ageing on muscle function and restore muscle size and strength in weak elderly people. According to Professor Lynch research is a significant contribution to understanding ageing and its effects on skeletal muscle.
Researchers are hopeful that this novel discovery will prove beneficial in restoring muscle function, strength and also improve the overall quality of life.