The loss of muscle mass that occurs with age known as sarcopenia can lead to poor balance, loss of strength, loss of mobility, and an increased risk for falls, which can be fatal for older people. In 2017, a phase 2 clinical trial for mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy to treat age-related frailty was launched . This is one of the CRATUS series of studies named after the Greek God of strength and power.
MSCs are one of the most commonly used types of stem cells in therapy due to the abundance and versatility. MSCs are adult stem cells that can become other types of cells, depending on stimulus; this ability to become a variety of other cell types is known as multipotency.
MSCs can transform (differentiate) into a range of cell types including osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), myocytes (muscle cells), and adipocytes (fat cells). This ability to become a number of important cell types makes MSCs of great interest to aging researchers and are one of the most well studied and understood types of stem cells.
The clinical trial was a randomized, double-blind study which included a placebo group. An improved level of physical performance level was observed in patients, and, the level of systemic inflammation, was reduced. There were no adverse effects observed in the patients. Treated groups showed remarkable improvements in physical performance measures and inflammatory biomarkers, both of which characterize the frailty syndrome.
The next step for the researchers here is to begin a phase 2b clinical trial with 120 patients in ten different locations. Following the conclusion of this, a large randomized phase 3 trial will be launched, and this will be the final barrier to public approval for the therapy.
 Tompkins, B. A., DiFede, D. L., Khan, A., Landin, A. M., Schulman, I. H., Pujol, M. V., … & Mushtaq, M. (2017). Allogeneic Mesenchymal Stem Cells Ameliorate Aging Frailty: A Phase II Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biomedical Sciences and Medical Sciences, 72(11), 1513-1522.