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“Scientists have created a ‘Mighty Mouse’ with muscles that stay powerful as it grows old,” the Daily Mail has reported. The newspaper said the ‘breakthrough’ paves the way for a “pill to give pensioners the strength of their youth, cutting the risks of falls and fractures in old age”.
The story comes from research on mice that found that transplanting donor muscle stem cells into injured leg muscles led to a 50% increase in muscle mass and a 170% increase in muscle size. The improvements were maintained though the lifetime of the mouse. The findings could have implications for treating the loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs in human ageing, say the researchers. It may also have implications for the treatment of muscle wasting diseases such as muscular dystrophy.
This laboratory study has provided intriguing findings but these are very preliminary as we are still a long way from developing a treatment to prevent loss of muscle mass in humans. Future research will first need to establish whether such transplants would be safe or effective in humans, which is likely to be a lengthy and challenging process.
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On november 12 2010
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