Director of the Centre, Associate Professor Jon Buckley says one of the most visible signs of ageing is the loss of muscle mass which can significantly impact on the health of an aging population, especially by impairing mobility and independence and predisposing older people to falls and injury.
“We are looking at a newly identified protein from milk to see if it can increase muscle mass and improve markers of bone health in older women,” Prof Buckley says.
“Preliminary studies conducted by researchers at MG Nutritionals and the Victorian Department of Primary Industries in animal and cell cultures have demonstrated that this protein stimulates muscle cell growth and increases muscle size and strength, as well as increasing the activity of cells which maintain bone mass.
“This shows that the protein could have preventative or therapeutic value for people who have conditions associated with loss of bone and muscle mass, including age-related losses.”
Prof Buckley says the potential to improve bone health may be particularly beneficial for postmenopausal women.
In a bid to assess the benefits of the protein and identify an optimal dose for the greatest improvement in muscle strength and markers of bone health, the research team at the Nutritional Physiology Research Centre is recruiting for volunteers for a study.
Project coordinator, Dr Rebecca Thomson says the study group will be women aged 50 to 70 years.
“We are looking for overweight, post-menopausal women aged 50-70 years who are physically active and would like to participate in an exercise study where they will be provided with specific exercise advice and have their exercise program supervised by expert personnel,” Dr Thomson says.
“All participants will be given a health screening to ensure they have no conditions which might limit their ability to safely undertake regular exercise.
“Eligible volunteers will take part in a 12-week exercise program incorporating walking/jogging and weight training at UniSA’s Health and Fitness Centre. They will also take capsules daily which contain different doses of the protein under investigation or a placebo.
“This is an excellent opportunity to contribute to our knowledge about this high potential protein at the same time as benefitting from the health and exercise advice and facilities that will be available during the course of the study.”
The Victorian Government, through its Victorian Science Agenda program, is contributing more than $2m to the study over three years with an additional $682k provided by the Geoffrey Gardiner Dairy Foundation.
To find out more about making a contribution to this important study, potential volunteers can telephone the Nutritional Physiology Research Centre on (08) 8302 2809 or email [email protected] and leave their details.