New research, led by a team at UCLA, has zeroed in on a chemical cocktail that has been shown to generate vast numbers of new muscle stem cells. It is hoped that such a break-through could advance therapies designed to combat muscle loss and aid the body in its recovery from injury.

In a report published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, the study’s senior author, Song Li, identified that a combination of root extract forskolin and a small-molecule compound already existing in the body, called RepSox, a compound secreted by the body that has been shown to regulate brown and white fat cells. RepSox, which is of great interest in current research looking at treatments for obesity, was responsible for producing significant numbers of stem cells within 10 days of application.

The study illustrated, by using mice, that newly produced muscle cells could be grown, and transplanted to injured tissue. Even more excitingly, Li’s team were able to inject the cocktail direct into injured muscle tissue with positive results. This more targeted approach was deemed highly successful, activating the division of muscle stem cells and opening up new possibilities for the treatment of injury, disease, and muscle wastage in humans.

The ability to generate new muscle stem cells, locally within the body, eliminates the need for growing cells in a lab and was observed even in the subset of elderly mice, seen as somewhat of a surprise because the environment that enables muscle stem cell growth becomes less effective as we age.

“Our chemical cocktail enabled muscle stem cells in elderly mice to overcome their adverse environment and launch a robust repair response,” said Li, who is the chair of bioengineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, and a professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine. (source: )

The team hopes that this new chemical cocktail will eventually be available to human patients as a one-time treatment for ailments that require new muscle stem cell tissue.

Touted for its fat burning qualities and muscle building properties, forskolin has been the subject of a number of recent studies. It is extracted from the root of the Indian Coleus, a tropical plant that is related to mint and is available in tablet or powdered form. Many people have reported reduced food cravings when supplementing with forskolin, adding it to smoothies and protein shakes as part of their daily routine.

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