Study explains why muscles weaken with age and points to possible therapy

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have discovered the biological mechanism behind age-related loss of muscle strength and identified a drug that may help reverse this process.

Their findings were published in the August 2 online edition of Cell Metabolism.

As we grow older, our skeletal muscles tend to wither and weaken, a phenomenon known as sarcopenia.

Sarcopenia, which begins to appear at around age 40 and accelerates after 75, is a major cause of disability in the elderly.

Exercise can help counter the effects of age-related muscle loss. Otherwise, there are no established treatments.

According to the new study, conducted in mice, sarcopenia occurs when calcium leaks from a group of proteins in muscle cells called the ryanodine receptor channel complex.