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Hormones May Hold Clues to Healthy Aging

Posted: June 22, 2006

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Merriam's group found that, compared with a placebo, capromorelin, at any dose, caused an increase in growth hormone production. In clinical terms, this treatment resulted in an increase in muscle mass, improved heel-to-toe walking, and better stair-climbing ability.

"After six months people on the active drug showed improvement in tandem walking, and they continued to show improvement at 12 months," Merriam said. "At 12 months there was also a significant improvement in stair-climbing in the treatment group."

But whether capromorelin will be available commercially anytime soon is problematic, Merriam said.

"It's very difficult to get a drug for normal aging on the market, because the FDA does not consider aging to be a disease and therefore sets the bar very high," he said. "I would not consider these results conclusive. Drugs in this category may have hope for improving physical function and thereby hopefully prolonging older people's ability to live independently."

One expert is cautious about supplementing hormone levels to fight aging, because scientists simply doesn't yet understand the consequences of long-term use of these agents.