Collaborative research to uncover insights into age-related loss of muscle, find novel treatments

Researchers from reNEW Melbourne will be part of a multi-centre collaborative research project that will investigate age-related muscle loss called sarcopenia.

Researchers from reNEW Melbourne will be part of a multi-centre collaborative research project led by the Centenary Institute and the University of Technology Sydney, that will investigate age-related muscle loss called sarcopenia. This research is supported by a Dynamic Resilience Program contract from Wellcome Leap.

Sarcopenia, a natural process, involves the gradual weakening of muscles as part of the aging process. This progression can contribute to reduced mobility, increased frailty, and an overall decline in the quality of life among the elderly population. Furthermore, sarcopenia can suddenly appear in older individuals during short-term hospitalisation and bed rest.

The objective of this collaborative research is to provide insights into the mechanisms underlying sarcopenia observed in older adults following short-term hospitalisation and to find novel treatments for the condition.

At the core of the investigation are lab-grown, bioengineered models of skeletal muscle. This arm of the project is being developed by reNEW PI Associate Professor Richard Mills. Mills also leads the Muscle Bioengineering lab at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne.

“These models of skeletal muscle offer an unprecedented lab-based platform for studying the biological processes of sarcopenia,” said Mills.

Principal Investigator of the project, Associate Professor Andy Philp said that their advanced muscle models would be able to simulate age-related conditions like sarcopenia to help unlock the secrets of skeletal muscle’s resilience to ageing and inactivity.

“Use of our novel bioengineered muscle platform in combination with patient-derived blood samples and advanced molecular analysis techniques, will help us decipher the intricate biological mechanisms underlying muscle ageing and wastage, as well as the muscle’s capacity for recovery,” said Philp.

Leading these advanced molecular analysis techniques are Associate Professor Mirana Ramialison and Dr Sean Humphrey, who each run the Bioinformatics and Phosphoproteomics platforms respectively for reNEW. Ramialison is also Group Leader of the Transcriptomics and Bioinformatics Group at the Murdoch Children’s, and Humphrey heads up the Functional Phosphoproteomics Lab.

Their research aims to identify potential therapeutic targets to prevent muscle deterioration during periods of inactivity such as like bed rest, by analysing molecular pathways and genetic changes in young and old muscle cells.

This collaborative research hopes to unlock new therapeutic approaches to promote muscle strength and resilience and ultimately to enhance the well-being and vitality of ageing individuals.

The collaborative research program will be undertaken by researchers at the Centenary institute, the University of Technology Sydney, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Sydney and the University of Leicester (UK).

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