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NTU study finds ways to prevent muscle loss, obesity and diabetes

scle loss also known as cachexia," said Prof Kambadur.

"When someone is suffering from a chronic disease and doesn't eat enough, the body starts to generate energy by breaking down muscle proteins and that is the reason we see a lot of muscle wasting under chronic disease conditions."

"Over the years, our research has revealed that this type of muscle wasting is initiated by excess levels of myostatin in the body. If we block myostatin from binding to cells, then muscles won't waste away and we can then mitigate the effects of aging and chronic diseases."

Apart from regulating the growth and loss of muscle, myostatin also regulates whether the body will burn fat or carbohydrates during fasting and meal times.

Blocking myostatin keeps the body in "fat-burning mode" and promotes muscle growth at the same time - which could potentially make obesity a thing of the past.

Because obesity is one of the main causes of the most common form of diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, blocking myostatin could also treat diabetes. In the US, 90 to 95 per cent of diabetes cases are Type 2, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Singapore's Health Promotion Board, diabetes is among the top ten causes of death locally. In 2010, it was reported by Ministry of Health that 11.3 per cent of the Singaporean adults aged 18 to 69 years are affected by diabetes while 10.8 percent were obese.

"In near future, myostatin blockers could increase fat utilisation in the body and give you the benefits of exercise, without actually doing intense physical activity," Prof Kambadur explained.

"This would be a good alternative treatment for people who are unable to exercise, such as those who are bed-ridden or are in cancer treatment, who are most at risk of massive muscle loss."

Prof Kambadur added that while blocking myostatin sounds like a good idea, there is a need to study the long term effe

Contact: Lester Kok
Nanyang Technological University

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