While it’s a nice idea that one day in the future we’ll be able to take a pill to give us immortality, in reality, it’s more likely that those who want to prolong their lives beyond their natural span will have to take advantage of a range of treatments.
One sign of aging is muscle wastage and decline. The stem cells in our muscles that repair damage maintain a pool of dormant cells to be called upon the next time they’re needed. But as we age, this pool of dormant cells shrinks, which is what scientists think causes muscular aging.
Now researchers from Kings College, London, Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital have identified the protein responsible for triggering the shrinkage of the dormant stem cell pool. By inhibiting this protein in mice, they were able to prevent the depletion of stem cells in their muscles.
Dr Albert Basson, Senior Lecturer at the King’s College London Dental Institute, said: ‘Preventing or reversing muscle wasting in old age in humans is still a way off, but this study has for the first time revealed a process which could be responsible for age-related muscle wasting, which is extremely exciting’.