Triggering Muscle Development -- A Therapeutic Cure For Muscle Wastage?
When muscles are stretched during exercise, they produce a specific substance known as mechano growth factor (MGF) that activates stem cells already present in the tissue. Once activated, these progenitor cells begin to divide, creating additional muscle fibres and increasing the size and strength of the muscle. In addition to intensive exercise, muscles need to be stimulated by growth hormone (GH) in order to release MGF. Since there is a natural decrease in the levels of this hormone as we age, this may combine with the lack of intensive physical activity to cause muscle wasting in elderly people. "The downside", warns Dr. Goldspink, "is that MGF has great potential for doping in sports. A synthetic version is already available over the internet, and although it is still very expensive, it is expected that new technologies will bring down the price to make it comparable to that of human insulin".
Cristian C. A. Bodo
Society for Experimental Biology
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