X-Message-Number: 15584
Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2001 11:19:04 -0500
From: James Swayze <>
Subject: Mighy mice fight aging

Mighty Mice to Fight Aging, Muscular
Updated: Wed, Feb 07 01:12 PM EST

By Julia Hancock

ROME (Reuters) - Italian scientists said on Wednesday they may
have found a way to help slow down the aging process through
experiments with genetically modified mice and are trying to apply
their discoveries to fight muscular dystrophy.

Researchers at Rome's La Sapienza University, working with
scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts
General Hospital in the United States, have created genetically
modified super-muscle mice which are relatively immune to the
muscle wasting that occurs with aging.

Tests in Rome have shown that a 22-month-old super-muscle
laboratory mouse, comparable in age to an 80-year-old human, has
the same type of muscle as a normal six-month-old mouse,
equivalent in age to a 40-year-old human. The mice were genetically
engineered to produce a growth-promoting protein called muscle
insulinlike growth factor 1 (mIgf1) only in their voluntary muscles --
those which control conscious movement.

"The originality of our research was to express the growth factor in
a selective way so it only affects voluntary muscles, thereby
avoiding side effects in the heart, kidney or other tissues," La
Sapienza's Antonio Musaro told Reuters.


The mIgf1 protein, normally found in muscles of healthy young
people, holds the properties which prevent muscle decay caused by
aging and certain muscle diseases, including some forms of
muscular dystrophy.

Musaro said the project was now concentrating on seeing how their
research could help fight the muscle wasting disease of muscular

"The goal is to use these models to develop a therapy that can be
used both for old people, to reduce muscle wasting, and for sick
people with illnesses like muscular dystrophy," he added.

Musaro said the project had also developed a therapeutic version of
mIgf1 which can be directly injected into the aged muscles of a
normal lab mouse.

The effect is the same as with the general variety of the protein,
but it is limited to the specific muscle into which the virus is
injected, rather than permeating all voluntary muscles.

"The experimental phase of this therapy we hope will last five years
before we can start (human) trials," Musaro said.

The earliest the therapy can be commercially available is in ten years
time, he added.

(Ten years!!?? Why so long? Personally I don't see why 2 years wouldn't be
adequate. Can someone enlighten me please?)


Some of our views are spacious
some are merely space--RUSH

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