Novel Molecule for Helping Seniors Stay Mobile

The Problem

Loss of strength in adults 65 years and older can have a dramatic impact on mobility, and in turn lead to more injuries, lower overall quality of life and independence, and increased healthcare costs. Muscle strength of the legs is a particular area of interest, and while there are multiple reasons for strength loss, one is that muscles become less sensitive to calcium.

Astellas Pharma, a global pharmaceutical firm, has developed an investigational compound that could help older adults stay stronger to increase their mobility by increasing calcium sensitivity in muscles. The company, however, was seeking ideal locations, research facilities and hospitals across the country to perform clinical trials to investigate the compound’s effectiveness in promoting muscle function and performance in those over 65 years of age with limited mobility.

The Expert

The Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute (OMNI) at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine was one of six sites nationwide chosen to partner with Astellas in conducting the ongoing trials. Because OMNI seeks to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal and neurological disorders by conducting basic and clinical research, it was perfectly positioned to assist Astellas.

“We are very excited to be part of this trial,” said OMNI’s Executive Director Brian Clark, Ph.D. “While our work generally focuses on how exercise and nutritional strategies can be used to promote physical function and independence in the elderly, we also participate in pharmaceutical studies when the molecule being investigated is of particular scientific interest to our team.”

The Solution

The investigational molecule synthesized by Astella activates a group of proteins, the troponin complex, that act as a calcium sensor in the muscle to regulate and trigger muscle contraction.  

OMNI recruited participants and is examining the effect of the compound on skeletal muscle fatigue in elderly adults with limited mobility. “This particular molecule focuses on enhancing the quality of muscle, which is innovative,” said Clark.

In addition to working with OMNI, Heritage College’s Clinical and Translational Research Unit (CTRU), which assists the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries and Ohio University faculty, staff and students in conducting clinical research with human subjects, is also a key partner in the investigation, providing valuable safety and efficacy support.