February 14, 2009
Drug Boosts Muscle Mass In Older Adults

A drug under development boosts lean muscle mass in older adults. This is pretty gutsy for a drug company to do active development on what is basically a rejuvenation drug - albeit a very limited scope rejuvenation drug.

An investigational drug that stimulates the body to produce more growth hormone improves lean muscle mass and physical function in older adults, potentially helping to combat frailty, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, the University of Washington School of Medicine, and 10 other study centers.

The Phase II study is the first to show improvements in physical performance among at-risk seniors taking capromorelin, an oral compound developed by Pfizer, which can help the body release more growth hormone. Older adults have greatly reduced production of growth hormone, which regulates metabolism and aids in the building of muscle mass even after adolescent growth has been completed.

But can it improve function without causing side effects that decrease life expectancy? Ideally the drug will increase functioning and increase life expectancy. But that's hard to do. Our bodies wear out as we age. Attempts to stimulate them to function better can backfire. Look at the problems with replacement hormones for post menopausal women. Hormone replacement isn't guaranteed to yield a net benefit.

Cures for cancer will eventually allow hormone replacement to deliver a net benefit in more cases. Hormone therapies that boost cancer risk but deliver benefits in other areas will probably become net benefits once cancer cures are available.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 February 14 10:15 PM  Aging Drugs

Nick G said at February 15, 2009 9:40 AM:

"Look at the problems with replacement hormones for post menopausal women."

Unfortunately, almost all testing has been on Premarin, which is dominated by horse hormones. Would replacement with the real thing do better? We don't know, because AFAIK the research hasn't been done. Have you seen any good research on bio-identical hormones?

Brett Bellmore said at February 15, 2009 10:30 AM:

Of course, as people get really old, the calculations between reduced longevity and increased quality of life shift. Mom's 85, her odds of living long enough to die of cancer aren't great, but she'd sure enjoy being able to use the walker more, and the wheelchair less, and having skin that wasn't so fragile she can't pull off a band aid without tearing her skin.

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