Sleeping bears may help to fight muscle atrophy

Researchers in Germany have studied hibernating bears to understand how they avoid muscle wasting.

The findings from EARA member the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Berlin, could help prevent hospital patients, and astronauts, from suffering muscle atrophy, usually caused by a lack of physical activity.

The team compared the activity of genes in bears, humans, mice and worms to find out which genes are regulated differently between hibernating bears and other animals.

Results, published in the journal Scientific Reports, found that non-essential amino acids (NEAA) - amino acids produced by the body instead of by food – were essential in preventing muscle wasting by altering the bear's metabolism.

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