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Longevity Briefs: Fighting Muscle Ageing With A Discarded Heart Failure Drug

Posted on 15 April 2021

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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: We are increasingly finding that the pile of ‘failed’ drugs may be a goldmine for treating diseases other than those they were originally designed to target. Many of the most promising lifespan extending drugs were originally used to treat specific conditions, and only later were they found to have anti-ageing properties.

What did the researchers do: In April 2019, an American biotechnology company called Amgen shut down a phase I trial for a drug named AMG 986. This was not due to any safety concerns, but because the drug didn’t show sufficient benefit for the heart failure patients who received it.

Another biotech company called BioAge Labs has now licensed AMG 986, and is planning a Phase I trial to see if the drug can slow or reverse some aspects of muscle ageing. The drug works by mimicking apelin, a hormone that regulates processes throughout the body and which declines in old age, and this seems to play a role in the ageing process as the organs of mice modified to lack apelin age faster.

Apelin is thought to play an important role in muscle function. Administration of apelin in older mice increases their muscle function by promoting synthesis of proteins and mitochondria, and has also been shown to help regenerate muscle stem cells. One of the ways in which exercise helps prevent the decline in muscle mass is thought to be by stimulating the production of apelin.

The muscle-secreted, exercise-induced peptide hormone apelin decreases with  aging and sarcopenia. Restoring it in aged mice with recombinant protein  improves muscle mass and function. : sciences
Vinel, C., Lukjanenko, L., Batut, A. et al. The exerkine apelin reverses age-associated sarcopenia. Nat Med 24, 1360–1371 (2018).

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      Anti-aging biotech upstart plucks a drug from Amgen's discard pile, pivoting from heart failure to muscle conditions:

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