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New Breakthrough in Reversing Effects of Ageing

A potential research breakthrough may have pushed the boundaries of age further along in a major way. Pharmaceutical experts say they have discovered a way to stimulate new cell growth in muscles, joints and cartilage. If viable, it could change the very definition of ageing.

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New Breakthrough in Reversing Effects of Ageing

A potential research breakthrough may have pushed the boundaries of age further along in a major way. Pharmaceutical experts say they have discovered a way to stimulate new cell growth in muscles, joints and cartilage. If viable, it could change the very definition of ageing.

A potential research breakthrough may have pushed the boundaries of age further along in a major way. Pharmaceutical experts say they have discovered a way to stimulate new cell growth in muscles, joints and cartilage. If viable, it could change the very definition of ageing.

The pharmaceutical firm Novartis believes it will be able to reactivate growth cells that go dormant as we enter adulthood. The new process involves the use of genetically engineered molecules that mimic natural antibodies to neutralise the body’s natural decision to slow or shut down growth receptors.

“This is regenerative medicine, using the body itself to stimulate the immune system to counteract the effects of ageing on the quality of life,” Vas Narasimhan, Global Head of Development at Novartis, told the Express. “We are targeting the receptor that down-regulates muscle growth. By blocking that receptor, we can stimulate muscle growth.

“The body retains the cells that generated cartilage and tendon but they become dormant. The question is, can you reactivate them to grow cartilage and tendon again? We have shown in clinical trials that you can grow the deltoid and quadriceps.”

Considering the fact that the body can lose one per cent of muscle mass each year after turning 50, researchers hope that if improved muscle mass and stability can be increased later in life, the benefits could lead to less falls. Falls cause nearly 76,000 hip fractures a year in the UK. Those injuries cost the NHS an estimated £1.4 billion.

There is a great deal of research, development and investment into finding ways to help an ageing population be more mobile and independent. Recent innovations in mobility scooters, better home stairlifts and public transportation inclusivity have all aided efforts to improve the quality of life.

The drug is currently in the testing phase, with patients citing increased thigh muscle volume and the ability to walk farther than those taking a placebo. There are also tests planned for other chronic muscle-wasting conditions and obstructive pulmonary disease.

Image Credit: Eric Schmuttenmaer (flickr.com)

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