Aging Americans are also showing an interest in synthetic human growth hormone as a hoped-for "elixir of youth." According to the American College of Physicians, it's estimated that some patients spend as much as $1,000 to $2,000 per month on the drug for anti-aging purposes.
But what if there were a way to jumpstart the aging body's natural supply of growth hormone?
In the current work, the authors had 65 healthy adults between the ages of 60 and 81 receive either a placebo or a so-called "oral ghrelin mimetic" called MK-677, over the course of one year. MK-677 is an experimental medication that prompts the body to release naturally produced growth hormone. The drug was ingested once daily in pill form.
After the end of the year, those who had been taking a placebo were switched to MK-677. At the same time, the group who had already been taking the drug either continued to take the medication or were taken off it.
Thorner's team found that patients who had received the therapy experienced an increase in growth hormone levels equivalent to levels seen among healthy young adults. Their lean, fat-free muscle mass also increased, as did overall body weight and the amount of fat distributed to the arms and legs.
"Whereas those who didn't get the growth-hormone boosting therapy lost about one pound of muscle in a year, those who got [the drug] gained about two pounds of muscle mass and experienced appetite stimulation," Thorner added. "Although fat increase was the same between the two groups, there was a difference in [fat] distribution, so that among those treated with the drug 50 percent of it was distributed to the limbs, rather than all to the center, as usual."
Patients who had been on MK-677 and then were taken off the medication saw all of the drug's beneficia
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