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Muscle Roundup

August 26, 2011

Loss of muscle tone is an inevitable part of aging—or is it?

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Restoring tired muscle. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Researchers at Columbia University may have discovered why muscles weaken with age. In the journal Cell Metabolism, they report that calcium leaks into muscle cells, poisoning the cells’ mitochondria. Those are the powerhouses of the cell. In addition, they have found that a drug that targets this leaky calcium problem made elderly mice fifty percent stronger. But the treatment will still have to prove its safety and efficacy in humans. 

And in related news reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have created marathon mice that run over six times further than normal mice. They did it by knocking out a gene called IL-15R-alpha. Blocking the gene changes the way the mice’s leg muscles use energy. The research could help patients with weakened muscles as a result of disease or aging. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.