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Approved Research

MuscleMap: Age-related changes in healthy skeletal muscle composition across the lifespan

Principal Investigator: Professor James Elliott
Approved Research ID: 86983
Approval date: June 24th 2022

Lay summary

Disorders affecting the neurological and musculoskeletal systems represent national and international health priorities. A significant impediment to progress in trials of new therapies is the absence of responsive, objective and valid measures of early disease processes. A key finding in individuals with neuromuscular disorders is the rapid changes to the size, shape, and strength of their muscle. Whilst these changes are an accepted feature in neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders, little is known about the size, shape, and strength of healthy muscles across the lifespan. Knowledge of what is normal age-related muscle composition is essential to accurately identify and evaluate abnormal. Normative reference data provide information to diagnose pathology, track the natural history of disabling neurological and musculoskeletal disorders, and objectively measure whether treatments are effective. A significant barrier to generating normative reference data of whole-body skeletal muscle composition is the time and technical expertise required to accurately evaluate skeletal muscles from radiology data. This three-year project, known as the MuscleMap will overcome these barriers by teaching a computer to accurately automate the measures of muscle size and shape, establishing the first normative reference dataset of over 225 skeletal muscles in females and males from the UK Biobank.