Yesterday, nextbigfuture reported that Harvard researchers have discovered a cause of aging in mammals that may be reversible.
The essence of this finding is a series of molecular events that enable communication inside cells between the nucleus and mitochondria. As communication breaks down, aging accelerates. By administering a molecule naturally produced by the human body, scientists restored the communication network in older mice. Subsequent tissue samples showed key biological hallmarks that were comparable to those of much younger animals.
Here is the correct Harvard research. There was an error in my original article to different and inferior work in 2010 at Harvard.
Here is more details on the new work.
The researchers will try to start clinical trials on humans in 2014.
The research focuses on a chemical called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, which naturally reduces in the body as we get older.
The ageing process occurs when communication between an area of the cell known as mitochondria, which produces energy, gradually stops communicating with the cell's nucleus.
The study found that by injecting the NAD compound, the ageing process was reversed in the mice, although muscle strength did not improve.
Dr Nigel Turner, senior research fellow at UNSW and co-author of the study, told Guardian Australia the rate of age reversal in mice was “amazingly rapid”.
“We mapped the pathway to ageing carefully, but it was a real surprise to see the markers of ageing move back so quickly in just a week,” he said.
Turner said a “magic pill” that reverses ageing is several years away, partially due to the cost of the compound, which would be about $50,000 a day for a human.
But trials are expected to commence as soon as next year, with researchers confident that side-effects will be minimal due to the fact the compound is naturally occurring.
“Now that we understand the pathway, we can look at other ways to restore the communication and reverse the aging process,” Turner said. “People think anti-aging research is about us wanting to make people live until they are 200, but the goal is really to help people be healthy longer into old age.
“We know that this cell communication breaks down in diseases such as dementia, cancer and type-two diabetes. This research focused on muscles, but it could benefit multiple organs and delay and prevent a lot of these diseases occurring.
“Whether that means we’ll all live to 150, I don’t know, but the important part is that we don’t spend the last 20 to 30 years of our lives in bad health.”
However, Dr Ali Tavassoli, from the University of Southampton argued: "It is important to note, that they did not see any changes in the mouse itself.
"This could be for one of two reasons. Either they need to treat for longer so that the changes occurring in the cells have time to affect the whole organism, or alternatively, the biochemical changes by themselves are not sufficient to reverse the physical changes associated with ageing in the mouse.
"More experiments are necessary to see which of these cases are true."
This work is far better than prior age reversal work in 2010
Reversal of aging work in 2010 was reversing the effects of accelerated aging of mice given fast aging disease. This work is on mice that are normally aged.
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