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Waste Not: Proteins suggest ways to thwart muscle loss

Old people, starving people, AIDS patients, cancer patients, and even astronauts. All these groups and others experience muscle atrophy, the wasting away of muscle fiber.

Two research teams have now revealed details of the biochemical signals that drive muscle atrophy. They include a class of proteins that may trigger this degenerative process.

The proteins are the "master switch," says Alfred Goldberg of Harvard Medical School in Boston, who heads one of the teams. "It would be nice if we could use [them] as a target for drug development and block the atrophy process, or at least reduce it."

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