Scots clinical trial out to give older people more muscle

Participants will be tested on muscle strength, muscle size, daily function and quality of life over the year. Picture: Esme Allen

Participants will be tested on muscle strength, muscle size, daily function and quality of life over the year. Picture: Esme Allen

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A Scots-led clinical trial is to examine whether a commonly used heart pill and a food supplement could improve the health of older people across the UK by improving muscle strength.

Researchers at the University of Dundee, University of Aberdeen and Imperial College London are testing whether the treatments can prevent the weakening of muscles that commonly affects the elderly.

The research team aims to recruit 450 people aged 70 and over from across the UK.

Participants will be given a heart pill (perindopril) or a matching dummy tablet, and also a food supplement powder (leucine) or matching dummy powder.

All the participants will take part for a year, and the research team will test how muscle strength, muscle size, daily function and quality of life change over the year.

Dr Miles Witham, lead researcher for the study at the University of Dundee said: “Muscle weakness, which we call sarcopenia, is really common as we get older, and I see many patients in my work as a geriatrician who are affected by this problem.

“Older people with weak muscles find it much harder to get around, or to climb stairs, and are more prone to falling and injuring themselves. In the long term, people with weaker muscles are more likely to need help to look after themselves. So keeping muscles working well is important in keeping older people active and independent.

“Although we know exercise helps to improve muscle strength even in very old people, it’s important to find new ways to keep muscles working well in older people and to help improve strength when muscles are weak.

“That’s why we are excited to be running this new trial. Previous research has suggested that both perindopril and 
leucine might improve muscle strength, and both these 
treatments have been used safely in older people for many years.

“It is only by doing this big trial that we will really know if these treatments are going to benefit older people though.”

The £1.4 million trial, named Lace, is run by Tayside 
Clinical Trials Unit and is funded by the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme, a Medical Research Council andNational Institute for Health Research partnership.

The research team are collaborating with doctors at 15 centres across the UK, and results from the trial are expected in 2019.

Meanwhile, a new study suggests that eating more apples, oranges, bananas, grapes and kale could help teenagers and young women reduce the risk of breast cancer in later life.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found high fruit consumption during adolescence was associated with a 25 per cent lower risk of breast cancer diagnosed in middle age.

• For more information or to sign up for the trial, contac Karen Smith on 01382 383265. lacetrial.org.uk

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