Written by Staff Writer
22 Dec, 2013 | 7:42 pm
US scientists have performed a dramatic reversal of the ageing process in animal studies.
They used a chemical to rejuvenate muscle in mice and said it was the equivalent of transforming a 60-year-old’s muscle to that of a 20-year-old – but muscle strength did not improve.
Their study, in the journal Cell, identified an entirely new mechanism of ageing and then reversed it.Other researchers said it was an “exciting finding”.
Ageing is considered a one-way street, but now researchers at Harvard Medical School have shown that some aspects can be reversed.
Their research focused on a chemical called NAD. Its levels naturally drop in all cells of the body with age.
The team showed this disrupted the function of the cell’s in-built powerstations, mitochondria, leading to lower energy production and ageing.Experiments showed that boosting NAD levels, by giving mice a chemical which they naturally convert into NAD, could reverse the sands of time.
One week of youth-medication in two-year-old mice meant their muscles became akin to those of a six-month-old in terms of mitochondrial function, muscle wastage, inflammation and insulin resistance.
Dr Ana Gomes, from the department of genetics at Harvard Medical School, said: “We believe this is quite an important finding.”
She argues muscle strength may return with a longer course of treatment.
However, this could never be a cure-all for ageing. Other aspects such as shortening of telomeres or damage to DNA would not be reversed.
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