Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences steps up a gear in the fight against muscle loss in old age


*Borna Müller

Lausanne, Switzerland, March 3rd, 2015. As life expectancy increases, sarcopenia is becoming ever more prevalent. The condition is characterised by the loss of muscle mass and function due to age, often leading to falls and loss of independence in the elderly population (see Sarcopenia factsheet).

Generally speaking, sarcopenia is not recognised as a disease by the medical community, but is instead viewed as a normal part of the ageing process. No specific treatment is available, other than recommendations to exercise and take protein and multi-vitamin supplements.

This situation will now be addressed through a collaborative project involving the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) and the EpiGen Consortium, an international alliance of researchers at institutions in Southampton, Auckland and Singapore. The MEMOSA project (Multi-Ethnic Molecular Determinants of Human Sarcopenia) is a three-year programme which officially launches in March 2015. It aims to develop molecular markers for identifying sarcopenia, and those patients who would benefit from a targeted intervention.

“Molecular profiling analyses to discover biomarkers will be done in 3 independent cohorts by studying directly the target tissue in muscle biopsies, with translation to blood levels – the first time this approach has been used for sarcopenia”, explains Jerome Feige, head of the NIHS Sarcopenia/Ageing of Skeletal Muscle team.

NIHS is funding this work, and in collaboration with EpiGen, researchers are analysing the genetic material and proteins from the samples to identify novel targets for intervention and biomarkers, and link these molecular profiles to the nutritional deficiencies associated with sarcopenia. These findings will then be used to develop new interventions for sarcopenia sufferers via innovative nutritional solutions, in line with NIHS’ mission of promoting and maintaining health.  Thanks to EpiGen’s global reach, scientists will carry out multi-ethnic profiling of sarcopenia sufferers from Caucasian, Afro-American and Asian backgrounds.

Nestlé has been collaborating with the Consortium since 2011, and recently a very large joint research programme to investigate the effect of maternal nutrition on a baby’s development and future healthy growth was announced: Nestlé boosts research into cutting-edge maternal nutrition and epigenetics.

The ground-breaking MEMOSA project and resulting new discoveries in the field of muscle health will allow NIHS to make a major contribution to Nestlé’s future research to develop diagnostics and nutritional solutions targeting age-related physical frailty. As such, it provides a unique opportunity to strengthen Nestlé’s position as the leading Nutrition, Health and Wellness company.

For enquiries, please contact:
Laura Camurri, Communications, NIHS
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  1. 1. Fielding, R.A., et al., Sarcopenia: an undiagnosed condition in older adults. Current consensus definition: prevalence, etiology, and consequences. International working  group on sarcopenia. J Am Med Dir Assoc, 2011. 12(4): pp. 249-56..
  2. 2. Ali, S. and J.M. Garcia, Sarcopenia, cachexia and aging: diagnosis, mechanisms and therapeutic options - a mini-review. Gerontology, 2014. 60(4): pp. 294-305..
  3. 3. Morley, J.E., et al., Nutritional recommendations for the management of sarcopenia. J Am Med Dir Assoc, 2010. 11(6): pp. 391-96.



About EpiGen
EpiGen is a global research consortium of leading investigators based at five centres in three countries (Auckland UniServices Limited, University of Southampton, Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit - University of Southampton, Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and National University of Singapore).  EpiGen strives to advance understanding of the developmental and environmental processes that influence health through the life-course.  Please visit for further information.  This collaboration includes the UWI Solutions for Developing Countries, University of the West Indies.