ALFIE asking for over-65s to boost research

Over-65’s in Tayside are being asked to help researchers aiming to find out if a commonly used drug, normally given for treating gout, could boost muscle strength and give a better quality of life in later years.

Allopurinol is a medicine which doctors have been prescribing for over 50 years, normally for the treatment of gout. However, research has indicated that allopurinol may also be able to improve the amount of oxygen available in leg muscles.

A research team at the University of Dundee want to see if allopurinol does offer a significant boost for muscle strength. They are looking for around 125 volunteers to help them with their study.

“As we get older our muscles lose strength and tire more easily, which can in turn make older people less likely to exercise and can also make them less independent,” said Dr Jacob George, from the University’s School of Medicine, who is leading the ALFIE (Allopurinol in Functional Impairment) study.

“This study will examine muscle strength in older people and test if this drug can improve muscle strength and endurance in older people. It would be a significant boost to older people everywhere if this drug is shown to offer significant benefits that would lead to better quality of life.

“We have conducted previous studies here in Dundee that showed allopurinol has benefits for patients with heart failure, angina and previous stroke. With this study we are looking for healthy volunteers to see if the drug can have benefits for a much wider population.”

People aged 65 and over and who are able to walk for a few minutes unaided are being asked to take part.

Those who volunteer will be asked about their general health and any medicines they may already be taking, to determine whether the study is suitable for them. Those who move on to take part in the study will receive a special MRI-type scan of their legs while doing some simple exercises.

This will be repeated at the end of the study to see if the function of the muscles has improved.

“We have a new capability here in Dundee using a process known as MR Spectroscopy, which allows us to use the scanner to measure things like the effects of exercise, which is a great advantage over previous technology and offers many research opportunities,” said Dr George.

Anyone who wishes to find out more about the study is invited to phone Ageing and Health on Dundee 383086 during office hours or to email

The study is being funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust.

Roddy Isles
Head of Press
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