Gene: Muscle Wastage

Source: Pop a pill to keep a six-pack without even breaking sweat, 31-08-2006

Research into muscle wastage — intended primarily to treat weakness in the sick and elderly — could lead to therapies that enable healthy people to preserve a buffed look without lifting a finger. While muscles can be built up with exercise, they start to break down quickly without it, so it is necessary to keep exercising to prevent muscles wasting away.

Two independent teams, one at Harvard University and one from a pharmaceutical company called Regeneron, have identified genes named atrogin1 and muRF1 which are active only during muscle atrophy. In rats, when these are knocked out, the animals suffer much less muscle wastage from disease or disuse.

A third team, at Purdue University, Indiana, has found another gene, erg1, which also contributes to the process. Its influence can be affected by an existing drug called astemizole, although this has been withdrawn because it can interfere with healthy heart activity.

Such a drug would not remove the need to exercise to build up muscles, but it would protect existing muscles against subsequent wastage.

BBC link here.

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