Longevity

Is the Cure for Aging Just Around the Corner?

Here's hoping that we've not been born one generation too early.

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ReverseAgingEvgenyatamanenkoDreamstime
Evgenyatamanenko/Dreamstime

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes," quipped Benjamin Franklin. For now both remain inevitable, but two exciting new studies suggest that the grim reaper might be put off by novel treatments that can slow and even reverse aging.

Peter de Keizer, a molecular geneticist at Erasmus University, reports in the journal Cell that he and his colleagues have developed a technique that kills off senescent cells. Our bodies have two ways of preventing damaged cells from becoming cancerous: kill them off, or cause them to cease replication and thus become senescent. Senescent cells accumulate as we grow older, secreting inflammatory substances that harm neighboring cells and contribute to many age-related diseases, including atherosclerorsis and diabetes.

De Keizer and his colleagues have developed a treatment in mice that selectively kills senescent cells while leaving healthy normal cells alone. They discovered that old or damaged cells become senescent rather than die when the FOXO4 protein binds to the tumor suppressor gene p53. They have designed another protein that interferes with the ability of FOXO4 to halt p53 from causing cells to die.

De Keizer's team administered the new protein to both fast-aging and normally aged mice. The treatment worked as they had hoped, jumpstarting the ability of p53 to make senescent cells commit suicide. Eliminating senescent cells restored stamina, fur density, and kidney function in both strains of mice. The researchers report that they are continuing to study the rodents to see if the treatment extends their lifespans. They plan to try the treatment to stop brain cancer in human beings, but the ultimate goal is to treat aging as a disease. "Maybe when you get to 65 you'll go every five years for your anti-senescence shot in the clinic. You'll go for your rejuvenation shot," de Keizer told the Tech Times.

In the same week, another group of Harvard researchers led by molecular biologist David Sinclair reported in Science about experiments in mice that thwart DNA damage associated with aging and exposure to radiation. As we age, our cells lose their ability to repair the damage to the DNA that makes up our genes. The repair process is orchestrated by the SIRT1 and PARP1 proteins. Both proteins consume the ubiquitous coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) to operate. As we grow older, the amount of NAD in our cells declines, thus allowing another protein, DBC1, to inhibit the DNA repair activity of both SIRT1 and PARP1.

In their new research, the scientists fed the NAD precursor nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) to mice that were equivalent in age to an 80-year-old person. They also gave it to mice whose DNA had been damaged by radiation. The compound boosted NAD back to youthful levels and restored their ability to repair the DNA damage in both the old and irradiated cells. Sinclair said, "The cells of the old mice were indistinguishable from the young mice, after just one week of treatment." In addition, dosing astronauts traveling to Mars with NMN could counteract the damage that radiation in deep space would cause them. In an earlier experiment by Sinclair and his associates, the muscles of two-year-old mice fed NMN resembled those of six-month-old mice with respect to insulin resistance, inflammation, muscle wasting, and other important markers. Sinclair says that his group plans to launch human NMN trials in the next six months.

Other groups have already started and completed safety trials of other NAD precursors in human beings. Leonard Guarente, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Glenn Laboratory for the Science of Aging, reported the results in December of a clinical trial involving 120 people who took the NAD precursor nicotinimide riboside (NR). The trial found that subjects experienced no serious adverse events. The participants ranged in age from 60 to 80 years old and took it for eight weeks.

The researchers report that NAD "levels increased from baseline in whole blood by an average of 40 percent at four weeks and maintained that increase for the duration of the trial." These results will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal soon. Guarente is the co-founder the startup Elysium Health, selling NR pills at $50 per month as a nutraceutical that is "designed to support well-being at the cellular level."*

Of course, researchers have developed all kinds of treatments that cure illnesses like cancer in mice that turn out not to work in people. So de Keizer sensibly observed to The Daily Mail, "I would also advise caution for claiming too much, too soon about the benefits of the fast-growing list of therapeutic compounds that are being discovered." Nevertheless, "these are clearly very exciting times, and I am confident we will find applicable anti-senescence treatments that can counteract age-related pathologies." Back in 2005, Sinclair said he "would be disappointed if we were all born one generation too early." Hurry up—none of us is getting any younger.

*Disclosure: I started taking Elysium's NR supplement about two months ago. It's hard to tell but I may be experiencing some uncomfortable gastrointestinal side effects, so under no circumstances should readers consider this as any kind of endorsement.

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50 responses to “Is the Cure for Aging Just Around the Corner?

  1. So, is Reason redoing their website on a Commodore Amiga or something? I keep getting “guru meditation” errors.

    1. I got one of those earlier. I assumed it meant i needed to re-center my chakras.

      1. I thought maybe it meant the skwirrelz were trying to achieve enlightenment, become one with the universe and become all-powerful omnipotent beings. God help us all…

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  2. Back to the Future 2 led me to believe we’d have this by now.

    1. Or at least flying skateboards. Thanks reality.

  3. Gastrointestinal Side Effects was my nickname in college.

  4. *Disclosure: I started taking Elysium’s NR supplement about two months ago. It’s hard to tell but I may be experiencing some uncomfortable gastrointestinal side effects, so under no circumstances should readers consider this as any kind of endorsement.

    Don’t be such a pansy. If you want your body rebuilt at the cellular level, you’re going to have to learn to handle “uncomfortable side effects”.

  5. Everyone knows it’s just due to low testosterone.

      1. Issues with reading comprehension, of course.
        😉

  6. Eliminating senescent cells restored stamina, fur density, and kidney function in both strains of mice.

    I’m definitely into that kidney function, but not sure I could use any more fur density. Pass.

    1. I could. For several years now hair has been departing the top of my head and turning up in other places, like the insides of my ears and my entire neck. I wouldn’t mind a more even density.

      1. Cousin It had perfect fur density.

        1. Exactly.

      2. Fur density is a big thing in some p0rn circles.don’t knock until you’ve tried it.

      3. I’ve recently noticed that the hair on my earlobes is surprisingly long. And remarkable soft and supple.

        1. Yeah! What the fuck. Every couple of weeks i get a strand or two of the finest gossamer spider silk trailing off my lobe, and somehow i never notice that fucker until it’s like four inches long.

      4. You never lose hair.

        They just tend to migrate and coalesce into tree trunks in your nose and ears as you get older.

  7. I’ve seen conflicting information that NR might not be any more (and perhaps even less) able to synthesize into NAD than simple niacin (which i’ve taken on and off over the years, oh man the flush tho, jesus…). I am pretty interested in seeing how NMN works out and hopefully someone will be able to make it relatively cheaply because right now it seems very hard to purify

    1. Niacin works okay for me, but my wife and kid both tried it and got serious hives.

  8. I’ve seen conflicting information that NR might not be any more (and perhaps even less) able to synthesize into NAD than simple niacin (which i’ve taken on and off over the years, oh man the flush tho, jesus…). I am pretty interested in seeing how NMN works out and hopefully someone will be able to make it relatively cheaply because right now it seems very hard to purify

  9. *Disclosure: I started taking Elysium’s NR supplement about two months ago.

    Unsciencey Monsanto funded pseudoscience.

    Enjoy turning into a Morlock.

    1. A: The only Monsanto funding I know about is my 50 shares that I bought with my own money and which I am hoping to sell to Bayer when and if their merger is approved. That is all.

      1. Drat. With your two sentences, you have destroyed my Big GMO + Big Aspirin conspiracy theory.

  10. “Maybe when you get to 65 you’ll go every five years for your anti-senescence shot in the clinic. You’ll go for your rejuvenation shot,” de Keizer told the Tech Times.

    Which, of course, we know to be wrong because plenty of cell and tissue systems start their decline well before the age of 65. Ask any dermatologist and they’ll tell you removing basal or squamous cell carcinoma from people in their late 20s is not unusual. Which is one reason why;

    Science about experiments in mice that thwart DNA damage associated with aging and exposure to radiation.

    Is probably bunk. Nevermind the host of aging-related illnesses that have no known association with DNA (damage).

  11. If 70 becomes the new 20 I still want every penny of my Social Security!

  12. Too late for poor old David Rockefeller.

  13. in mice

    Damn it. So close, yet so far away.

  14. Thanks so much for the dinner invite. My great, great, great grandfather’s coming over for the weekend; mind if we bring him along?

  15. So, it might work, but it might make you fart a lot. No problem! Sign me up! My wife won’t know the difference ? in the GI distress ?. but ooh la la!

  16. And someday when the descendants of humanity have spread from star to star, they won’t tell the children about the history of Ancient Earth until they’re old enough to bear it; and when they learn they’ll weep to hear that such a thing as Death had ever once existed!

    Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality – Chapter 45 – Humanism, Pt 3

  17. Is the Cure for Aging Just Around the Corner?

    I’m beginning to think this is the new “fusion power will be here in 5 years” that we’ve been hearing for 50 years.

    I blame mice for having immune systems that are not like ours, which screws up testing.

    1. Mice have magic immune systems which make it possible to reverse aging in them, but it could never work in people. Because.

      1. Nothing magical. Although very similar, mice and human immune systems have evolved very differently since our ancestors diverged. Because they live close to the ground they are exposed to far higher levels of pathogens. Their immune systems are correspondingly more focused on tolerance where ours is more focused on resistance.

        See for instance: http://www.qucosa.de/fileadmin…../Zschaler, Schlorke, Arnhold 2014_Crit Rev Immunol.pdf

  18. …if the cure for aging is human extinction, perhaps.

  19. It’s always just around the corner, and always will be. I swear to god Kurzweil will be laying there coma stricken in a hospice death bed and suddenly he’ll sit up and say that mankind will stop and reverse aging in his lifetime, then immediately lay back down and expire.

    Our treatments for simple bacterial infections will be useless within less than a century. We can only transplant a handful of organs, and the requisite anti-rejection drugs take decades off the recipient’s life. No effective treatments for cancer or heart disease. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death. But yes, I’m sure at his current age of 64 Ron will live to see the day when immortality is achieved.

    1. say that mankind will stop and reverse aging in his lifetime

      You just read an article where they in fact reversed many aspect of aging in mice.

      Our treatments for simple bacterial infections will be useless within less than a century.

      Peak food. Peak oil.

      I doubt peak antibiotics does any better.

  20. I am very surprised by the comments in here being pro-age cure as opposed to on the liberal sites that I see these articles posted.

    I came here to say “In before those that hate their lives complain about not dying, oh wait too late.”. But I am pleasantly surprised.

    I do like that libertarians actually like life and as individuals understand that their life is important enough to go on for a long time. As opposed to collectivists who believe that the whole point of their life is to ensure that their collective of choice goes on and if their death in any way helps, then all the better.

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  22. I’m sure Ron can find a gastrointenstinal cure through one of of the very helpful click bait ads on the site.

    This is the one food you should be eating now!

  23. $50/month for Elysium’s nicotinamide riboside (NIAGEN?) supplement? Life Extension Foundation has it for under $20/month when you buy 4.
    http://www.lifeextension.com/V…..egenerator

    1. Thanks for that link, which I checked out. LEF is my main source for supplements and I’m lucky enough to have a brick and mortar store in my town.

      I take Elysium’s Basis supplement. There’s a difference in doses and ingredients, if I’m reading everything right. The LEF product has 30 capsules of 100mg of Nicotinamide Riboside; Elysium, 30 capsules of 250mg. LEF’s is “just” Niagen, while Elysium’s also has 50mg of Pterostilbene, which I read is like Resveratol. LEF’s Pterostilbene (I can’t believe I typed that twice) at its lowest, autoshipped price is about $22 for 60 capsules so say $11 for one pill a day over two months.

      I won’t do all the math but you’d have to double the LEF Niagen bottle and add that other supplement I refuse to spell again and you’d be around the Elysium price. How much of a different that extra ingredient makes, I have no idea, and I also don’t know what the optimal Niagen dose is.

  24. So, how does this eventually work when someone chooses to not live indefinitely? Can the state force me to take those age defying tonics? What if I take the tonics for some period and then choose to stop? Is that suicide, hence illegal?

    All of that ignores the question of whether it helps the brain continue to learn at a pace that allows you to accept changes in society. Imagine Wyatt Earp trying to answer the questions of his hostility to speeders expecting nothing more than a traffic ticket.

    Folks need to die. Unless there is a way for humans to continually adapt to changes in society there will be mass friction. However, I’m sure the robots and AI will fix this problem before it becomes serious.

    1. Is that suicide, hence illegal?

      Presumably libertarians would say “your body, your choice”.

      Folks need to die.

      Death worshippers are encourage to fulfill their fanaticism on their own bodies.

    2. Don’t worry, the Obamacare 2 Life Extension Review Panels will undertake a full review of your social media message postings before renewing your anti-death treatments every 5 years, just to make sure you aren’t spreading intolerance and hence undeserving of continued life at government expense.

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