Sunday, March 10, 2013

Anti-Ageing Breakthrough

Well, I didn’t see this is one coming, and really should have. I’ve always felt that life-extension would go in a series of small steps, just as it has been going. There is no cure for cancer as a whole because there are thousands of different varieties of cancer. If a cure or some kind of delaying treatment is found for one kind then that pushes overall life-expectancy up, just a little. Just as if a better way of treating dementia or diabetes is found. Statisticians have a lot of fun with these figures because, with life presently being 100% fatal, if you cure one thing then more people die of another. Next time you hear ‘dementia on the rise’ just remember that is probably because less people are keeling over from heart attacks.

Since 1970 life expectancy in Western European countries has typically risen by six to eight years, and the rate of increase has been 2% a decade. Of course these figures vary hugely across the world and are dependent on numerous factors, but the trend is ever upwards. There are many coffin dodgers would like to try and stay within that slow rise and, unless our civilization collapses, there will be people born in the next 100 years who are just going to keep on living, with no end in sight.

However, even though most of the low-hanging fruit have been picked – consider how much life expectancy must have leapt up when penicillin was discovered – but the possibility of big jumps in life expectancy should not be discounted. And this looks like it might be one of them. Here is a link at Extreme Longevity, and another at Science Daily and lots more can be found if you just google ‘Anti-aging drug breakthrough’.

Publishing his work in the prestigious journal Science, David Sinclair of Harvard reports a breakthrough in the development of drugs that can block the aging process.

The article is entitled Evidence for a Common Mechanism of SIRT1 Regulation by Allosteric Activators, and reveals how interaction with a single amino acid in the SIRT1 enzyme is crucial for the ability of drugs that can activate the enzyme.

SIRT1 is an enzyme in the class of molecules called Sirtuins. Significant research shows that activation of sirtuins  reduces cellular aging through its interaction with other cellular master switches such as FOXO3a and PGC-1a

“At the cellular level,” explain the authors. “SIRT1 controls DNA repair and apoptosis, circadian clocks, inflammatory pathways, insulin secretion, and mitochondrial biogenesis”

The increase in centenarians is well known, but this particular comment caught my attention:

 “Now we are looking at whether there are benefits for those who are already healthy. Things there are also looking promising,” he says. ”We’re finding that ageing isn’t the irreversible affliction that we thought it was,”

“Some of us could live to 150, but we won’t get there without more research,” he adds.


Jebel Krong said...

hmmm i do feel that we've been here before however in any case theonly solution is more research. for a long time telomeres were the holy grail of anti-ageing, now this. more likely to be a combination of all these things... test the hypothesis!

Anonymous said...

Anti-oxidants were once thought to be great for anti-ageing too. However this research does look encouraging, calorie restriction has shown great results in animals, and I believe it's starting to show good results in humans.

If this drug can reproduce the effects of calorie restriction then it could well be a big breakthrough. Hopefully it's such a big breakthrough there's a huge demand for it, which makes the price plummet so most of the population that want it can afford it.

I'm interested to know whether you, Neal, would sign up to take it if it's approved for human use?

Neal Asher said...

Daniel, yeah it always seems to be 'more research' or 'development' or 'testing'. However, that's what I was reading about exoskeletons, and eye implants for the blind, a number of years ago. Now they both have FDA approval and are happening.

James, I'd sign up for just about anything to extend my life (just so long as it goes hand in hand with quality of life) ... except of course sensible stuff like giving up smoking.