The study by researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has yielded important breakthroughs on how the body loses muscle, paving the way for new treatments for aging, obesity and diabetes.
The study found that by inhibiting a particular molecule produced naturally in the body, muscle loss due to aging or illnesses can be prevented. Blocking the same molecule will also trigger the body to go into a 'fat-burning mode' which will fight obesity and also treat the common form of diabetes.
The exciting discoveries have led NTU scientists to embark on joint clinical research with local hospitals to further validate their findings which were previously carried out on animals.
Their research on how humans lose muscle during extreme conditions such as chronic diseases or starvation was published last month in Cell Metabolism
, a prestigious journal known for publishing biological breakthroughs.
Associate Professor Ravi Kambadur and his team from the NTU School of Biological Sciences found that a protein called Myostatin, which controls muscle cell growth, is responsible for initiating muscle loss.
When excess levels of Myostatin is bound to a muscle cell, it induces heavy loss of mitochondria (the part of the cell responsible for energy production that keeps a cell alive), which in turn causes the muscle cell to waste or lose muscle tissue (atrophy) due to the 'lack of energy'.