Let’s face it, none of us want to get old. Over recent years we’ve seen a real push from medical researchers, trying to reduce disease and finding ways of making us live longer.
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia and Harvard Medical School have been working together on a project that restores communication within animal cells, possibly reversing the aging process. So far the studies have been carried out using mice but the researchers hope to begin human clinical trials in 2014.
The researchers have restored communication between a nucleus and a cell’s mitochondria. Mitochondria are basically what powers the cell by generating chemical energy so that key biological functions can be carried out by the body. It’s when communication breaks down between these two parts that aging begins to speed up.
By restoring this communication, David Sinclair who is based at Harvard Medical School, discovered that aging was not just slowed down but could actually be reversed. The benefits of this are numerous, with the possibility for treating cancer, type 3 diabetes, inflammatory and mitchondrial diseases, just to mention a few.
Aging is caused by a decline in the chemical NAD, so by increasing the amounts of a compound used by the cell to produce NAD, the mitchondrial function could be repaired quickly.
“It was shocking how quickly it happened,” co-author Dr Nigel Turner, an ARC Future Fellow from UNSW’s Department of Pharmacology says. “If the compound is administered early enough in the aging process, in just a week, the muscles of the older mice were indistinguishable from the younger animals.”
The researchers not only gave the compound to older mice but also to younger ones. These young mice became “supercharged” in some aspects, suggesting that the compound could benefit the young and healthy as well as the old and infirm.
Before the human clinical trails begin, the researchers are now examining what the long-term outcomes are as a result of the NAD-producing compound in the mice and whether it gives them longer, healthier lives or not.
[Image via rt.com]