Research highlights

Benefits of exercise for older adults

The benefits of high-intensity interval training are well known, but does it deliver the same results for older people? Dr Robyn Murphy and Dr Victoria Wyckelsma, together with collaborators from Victoria and Monash universities, put a group of older adults on a 12- week program and monitored their ability to create energy-rich organelles known as mitochondria. Their findings, published in Journal of Physiology, demonstrate that older adults were able to increase their mitochondrial content over the course of the program, with benefits comparable to what is seen in younger cohorts.

Parkinson’s disease drug target

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterised by the loss of neurons in the brain that are involved in movement. Developing drugs that protect these neurons from dying is critical to managing the disease. Dr Lesley Cheng and PhD student Camelia Quek, together with collaborators from The University of Melbourne, tested a drug compound that showed a reversal of PD symptoms, and mapped the genes that were recovered. Their findings, published in Scientific Reports, identify new drug targets associated with preventing neuronal loss.

Rehabilitating injured muscles

Rotator cuff muscles act as stabilizers of the shoulder joint. They play a critical role in the most versatile but unstable joint in the body. In world-first research on living subjects, PhD student Sangeeta Rathi and Dr Rod Green have shown that the contraction of rotator cuff muscles increases stability of the joint in a direction-specific manner. Their findings may offer new treatment options for the rehabilitation of these commonly injured muscles.