A Joslin Diabetes Center team has shown that treatment of aged mice with a compound can rejuvenate their muscle stem cells. The lab of senior author Amy Wagers developed a way of screening chemicals that would promote regeneration in muscle stem cells from older mice, and identified a compound, A25, that selectively blocks a protein involved in TGF beta signaling, a cellular signaling pathway important to stem cell growth.

The drug had no effect on muscle stem cells in young mice, but in older mice the compound gave old muscle stem cells the regenerative ability of cells from young mice. Because this compound would stimulate cells throughout the body, it would not be useful in humans, but the results do show that stimulation of old muscle adult stem cells is possible. An appropriate compound could potentially be useful to repair wasted or damaged muscle in older people.

The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in Philadelphia.