Medicine – The excessive loss of muscles in old age – called sarcopenia – leads to frailty, weakness and back pain. A well-known drug called rapamycin could delay the previously untreatable disease.
About every third person over the age of 80 suffers from sarcopenia. The protein complex mTORC1 can accelerate the disease, as researchers led by Markus Rüegg at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel have discovered. Rapamycin inhibits this complex – and thus dampens the age-related muscle breakdown, report the researchers in the journal “Nature Communications”.
They were able to show this in the mouse model: “Contrary to our expectations, long-term treatment with rapamycin had a positive effect on the aging of the skeletal muscles in mice. Both muscle mass and muscle strength are largely preserved,” said Daniel Ham, first author of the study, according to a communication of the university on Wednesday.
Rapamycin also stabilized the connections between nerve cells and muscle fibers. Conversely, permanent activation of mTORC1 accelerated muscle aging. According to the researchers, the age-related muscle weakness could possibly be delayed with the help of mTORC1 inhibitors.