The modern lifestyle leads us to be more and more sedentary and less predisposed to movement. However, we all know that regular physical activity is essential for keeping body and mind in shape. Conversely, moving too little can cause weakening of muscles (known as sarcopenia) and bones (known as osteoporosis), increase the risk of diseases, such as cardiovascular, stroke and diabetes, and speed up the aging process. For this reason, the WHO recommends performing at least 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity or at least 75-150 minutes of vigorous activity plus strengthening exercises for major muscle groups at least twice a week during the week. Although not everyone can practice it: we think of the elderly with disabilities, people with severe obesity or those who are recovering from surgery.
For some time, science has been engaged in the search for a replacement drug for physical exercise, suitable for those who cannot practice it. Now a research group of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, has developed a new drug that appears to mimic the anabolic changes in muscles and bones that exercise causes. Researchers believe this drug can change the lives of sarcopenia and osteoporosis sufferers, as well as those unable to exercise, such as the elderly, obese or people with physical disabilities. The research results were published on Bone Research.
The drug improves muscle mass and bone density
Researchers have developed a new drug screening system to identify a compound that mimics the anabolic changes exercise causes in muscles and bones. Using this system, they identified the aminoindazole derivative locamidazole (LAMZ), and tested it in a group of mice with sarcopenia and osteoporosis. The drug stimulated the growth of muscle cells and bone-forming cells, osteoblasts, while suppressing the growth of bone-resorbing cells, osteoclasts, without causing any apparent side effects. In particular, the mice treated with LAMZ showed greater muscle fiber width, greater maximum muscle strength, a higher rate of bone formation and less bone resorption activity.
“It can be administered by multiple routes and improves both muscle and bone mass, resulting in an increase in locomotion capacity. Therefore, LAMZ has potential as a therapeutic drug for patients with walking difficulties, such as those with sarcopenia and osteoporosis, ”said senior author Tomoki Nakashima.
Developed a drug that reduces the sense of hunger and body weight
A possible therapy to cure sedentary diseases and metabolic disorders
The research team further delved into how LAMZ works and found that it mimics the signaling pathways of calcium and PGC-1α. These pathways are activated during exercise and stimulate the expression of downstream molecules involved in the maintenance of muscles and bones. As PGC-1α has been shown to protect muscle from atrophic degenerative processes and have a protective effect on aging, the results of this study suggest that LAMZ could be used to treat sedentary diseases and metabolic disorders.
“Our results – said senior author Tomoki Nakashima – indicate that LAMZ is transferred into the blood after administration, both oral and subcutaneous, suggesting that it can be distributed to other organs, including liver, fat and brain, improving their functionality” .
Taken together, the research results show that LAMZ represents a potential therapeutic method for treating locomotor frailty as it mimics some benefits of physical exercise. So it could help patients stuck in a hospital bed or who are experiencing another condition that impairs their ability to exercise. However, until now, much of the research in this area has been done in the context of animal studies, and there are still very few researchers who are testing this type of drug in humans. The hope is that encouraging results will soon arrive also from human studies in this research field.