Friday, November 14, 2014

Growing younger!-A dream come true?

Leading a healthy life without being weighed down by a host of diseases and ailments is every one's dream towards which billions of dollars are being invested on research and development, spread through out the world. While this area of research is essential, what is more interesting is man's desire to look younger, feel younger and act younger and here again substantive efforts are going on in some countries, especially in the West. Living longer is logically the ultimate outcome of success of such efforts. We may recall the euphoria around restricted calorie diet which was the buzz word a few years ago. But recent studies do not favor this approach due to many reasons. Similarly resveratrol contained in red wine was touted as an elixir that can arrest effects of aging. In spite of all these efforts, man does not appear to be any where near achieving this dream. A new study emanating from Australia highlighting the role of mitochondria and nucleus in cells in aging dynamics is reported to be opening up a new approach in reversing the "inevitable" process of aging, at least in animals. Here are the excerpts of a report which can be gleaned to have a better idea about the significance of these studies.

"With the wide-ranging benefits of reducing disease and enabling a longer, healthier life, reversing the causes of aging is a major focus of much medical research. A joint project between the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia and Harvard Medical School that restored communication within animal cells has the potential to do just that, and maybe more. With the researchers hoping to begin human clinical trials in 2014, some major medical breakthroughs could be just around the corner. The researchers have managed to reverse the effects of aging in mice using an approach that restores communication between a cell's mitochondria and nucleus. Mitochondria are the power supply within the cell, generating the chemical energy required for key biological functions. When communication breaks down between mitochondria and the cell's control center, the nucleus, the effects of aging accelerate. A team led by David Sinclair, a professor from UNSW Medicine who is based at Harvard Medical School, found that by restoring this molecular communication, aging could not only be slowed, but could be reversed. The technique has implications for treating cancer, type 2 diabetes, muscle wasting, inflammatory and mitochondrial diseases. The study follows on from previous research showing that exercise and certain dietary habits, such as calorie restriction or the intake of resveratrol (found in red wine and nuts), slowed the breakdown of intra-cellular communication and therefore aging".

It has been known since long that Nicotinamide Adenine Nucleotide (NAD) is deeply involved in energy metabolism at the cellular level and it plays a critical role in the working of muscles. But to think that maneuvering to alter its levels can influence the aging process is a startling finding with far reaching implications. The scientists used a chemical, which has not been identified in the above report, to influence NAD level in the cell and if it is as simple as administering the same in specified amounts to achieve reversing of aging, world is at the brink of an imminent breakthrough in evolving an anti-aging therapy. Further, as a bonus these scientists claim that this therapy can also help in treating diseases like cancer, diabetes and others successfully. Of course there is a rider to these claims because the findings are based on rat studies which need authentication through human clinical trials which seem to be under way. Imagine a whole world, teeming with biologically old people looking more like teen age youngsters and the sociological consequences there of!


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