AUGUSTA, Ga. Researchers want to turn back the clock on aging stem cells so they'll make better bone.
Bone-weakening osteoporosis results in a fracture every three seconds worldwide, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. The right nutrients resulting in the right signals could help aging stem cells act more youthful, producing stronger bones longer and reducing the death and disability associated with a frail framework, Georgia Health Sciences University researchers say.
While many headlines scream obesity, about one-third of Americans age 65 and older are malnourished it's called anorexia of aging which means their bone-producing stem cells probably lack the right nutrition and signals to stay healthy and focused on their job, said Dr. Carlos Isales, endocrinologist and Chief of GHSU's Program of Regenerative Medicine. And even sufficient calories may not provide the right nutrient mix for aging bones.
Ironically, the easiest thing for bone-producing mesenchymal stem cells to make is fat, which is often what they resort to with age and inadequate nutrients. "Fat is the cheapest thing for your body to make. If it has to make muscle, that consumes energy, if it has to make bone or blood cells, that takes energy, so fat is the default pathway," said Isales, principal investigator on a $6.3 million Program Project Grant from the National Institutes of Health designed to help keep stem cells on the right track.
He and colleagues Dr. Mark W. Hamrick, a bone biologist, and Dr. William D. Hill, a stem cell researcher, are taking on the problem from multiple angles.
They believe a key group of amino acids, found in good supply in protein, can help generate the signals stem cells need to keep producing bone. Bones cells have surface sensors for these nutrients and the researchers want to know how those change with age and which nutrients are their best activators.
These nutrients are in addition to
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Georgia Health Sciences University