Mighty Mouse may be just the right creature for the elderly to embrace. You may be wondering how in the world can Might Mouse help out an older person? The Wall Street Journal recently ran an interesting article about how the discovery in 1997 of genetically engineered mice and their Mighty Mouse capabilities. The research has Pharma hopping to it as it shows how the use of drugs may help the elderly walk again and rebuild muscle tissue in a variety of diseases.
Novartis in conjunction with a biotech company, MorphoSys AG, has the most advanced of these drugs. Sanofi, Eli Lilly, Glaxo-SmithKline, Pfizer are also working on these types of drugs. They are all in clinical or early stage testing with the first up for approval in 2016.
How does this all work? Apparently, Myoststin is a protein that occurs naturally in our bodies and curbs muscle growth. The drug acts by blocking it, or the sites where it is detected and thereby has the potential to rebuild muscle.
Experts report that muscle wasting is a major cause of health deterioration in the elderly. Bill Evans, a specialist in aging and muscle metabolism at Glaxo claims, ” However you cut it, muscle wasting has an impact on function in a very, very large patient population. It could affect 15-20% of the population over the age of 65 or 70.”
Experts are enthusiastic at how far scientists have come and feel they must have seen some good results to drive their moving forward. However, there are obstacles in the way. Some people view losing muscle as part of the aging process and don’t see it as a disease. Pharma has concerns that revolve around recruiting the elderly for expensive clinical trials.
The potential benefits seem to outweigh the downsides. Some think the drugs could be used to fight off obesity and treat type 2 diabetes. The building of more muscle increase the need for more calories and patients can burn off more calories. We all lift weights in hopes of increasing our metabolism so this does make sense! The build up of muscle will also increase the storage area for sugars that may otherwise land in the pancreas or liver.
So, one more potential tool in the arsenal for growing old with gusto! And with more muscle to fuel it!