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'Fountain of Youth' protein booster identified

 

A process to boost the DNA repair capabilities of a metabolite in human cells could lead to the reversal of aging, according to a new report.

MedicalXPress cited the research published in Science magazine, which found the “cells of the old mice were indistinguishable from the young mice, after just one week of treatment.”

That was the comment from the article’s author, professor David Sinclair of the University of New South Wales School of Medical Sciences and Harvard Medical.

The study’s abstract explained DNA repair “is essential for life, yet its efficiency declines with age for reasons that are unclear.”

“Numerous proteins possess Nudix homology domains (NHDs) that have no known function. We show that NHDs are NAD+ (oxidized form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) binding domains that regulate protein-protein interactions.”

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MedicalXPress explained that the experiments, done so far in mice, “suggest a treatment is possible for DNA damage from ageing and radiation. It is so promising it has attracted the attention of NASA, which believes the treatment can help its Mars mission.”

It’s that declining ability for repairs that is the focus, the report said.

“The scientists identified that the metabolite NAD+, which is naturally present in every cell of our body, has a key role as a regulator in protein-to-protein interactions that control DNA repair. … Treating mice with a NAD+ precursor, or ‘booster,’ called NMN improved their cells’ ability to repair DNA damage caused by radiation exposure or old age.”

The report said human testing will begin within months.

Sinclair, who operates out of a lab in Sydney, Australia, explained, “This is the closest we are to a safe and effective anti-aging drug that’s perhaps only three to five years away from being on the market if the trials go well.”

NASA has concerns about keeping its astronauts healthy during what would be a four-year trip to Mars.

“Even on short missions, astronauts experience accelerated ageing from cosmic radiation, suffering from muscle weakness, memory loss and other symptoms when they return,” the report said. “On a trip to Mars, the situation would be far worse: five percent of the astronauts’ cells would die and their chances of cancer would approach 100 percent.”

The report said that in theory, the same treatment “could mitigate any effects of DNA damage for frequent flyers.”

Others who could benefit are survivors of childhood cancers, who tend to suffer from a chronic illness, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer by age 45.

That tendency can be blamed as least partly on “accelerated aging,” the report said.

The report explained the researchers already had found that NAD+ could be used to treat a number of other health issues, such as the side effects of chemotherapy.

“In 2003, Professor Sinclair made a link between the anti-ageing enzyme SIRT1 and resveratrol, a naturally occurring molecule found in tiny quantities in red wine,” the report said.

Sinclair noted that while resveratrol activates that one enzyme, NAD+ boosters activate seven.

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