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A waxy substance, ursolic acid, found in high concentrations in apple peels, can help mice build muscle and reduce muscle atrophy, body fat, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol, reports Newswise. Researchers at the University of Iowa decided to test ursolic acid in living mice after comparing gene expression in atrophied muscle cells to cultured muscle cell lines exposed to a variety of different chemical compounds. They found that ursolic acid caused the opposite pattern of gene expression to that exhibited by atrophying cells. Currently, there is no medicine to treat muscle atrophy, which affects most people at some point in their lives, especially during illness, aging, or after nerve damage. Ursolic acid appears to improve the ability of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 to bind to muscle cells and enhance growth or block atrophy. The researchers hope to move on to human trials to test the effectiveness of ursolic acid in treating muscle wasting and possibly diabetes.