Reversing the aging process and finding a cure for "incurable" diseases such as cancer are two concerns that scientists problematize. Now, with new research into human DNA, science could possibly accomplish both.
Tech Times reported on March 24 that a research team from the Erasmus University Medical Center found that removing senescent cells from human DNA could help fight off aging. Now, a joint study published by researchers from the University of New South Wales and Harvard Medical School revealed a scientific breakthrough that could lead to the development of an authentic anti-aging drug.
Published in Science on March 24, the study found what is most likely the most crucial factor with regard to how human DNA repairs itself: the decline of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) as we age.
What is NAD+?
NAD+ are metabolites or metabolic molecules that are present in every cell in our bodies, which is necessary for DNA repair. As humans age, NAD+ are not able to do their job properly, leading to all the signs of aging and our body's inability to heal itself properly and quickly. This is where our aging problems begin.
However, Professor David Sinclair, Dr. Lindsay Wu, and their research team from the UNSW and Harvard Medical School discovered why exactly the NAD+ become ineffective when humans age: NAD+ levels start dropping and molecules don't interact as well as they used to.
The Healing Process
In order for our molecules to properly repair itself, NAD+ has to bind with poly(adenosine diphosphate-ribose) polymerase (PARP1) to begin the repair process. However, as we age, the molecule deleted in breast cancer 1 (DBC1) hinders NAD+ from binding with PARP1, leading to decreased ability for cell repair.
Prof. Sinclair is not new in the study of DNA's role in the aging process and he was already successful with muscle regeneration in mice using NMN, a NAD precursor. The research team wanted to go further.
"We thought if there is a connection between SIRT1 and DBC1, on one hand, and between SIRT1 and PARP1 on the other, then maybe PARP1 and DBC1 were also engaged in some sort of intracellular game," study co-author Jun Li said.
In order to test this, the team injected old mice with NMN and observed the results. They found that, after only a week of observation, NMN boosted the old mice's ability to repair radiation and aging damage in its cells.
"The cells of the old mice were indistinguishable from the young mice, after just one week of treatment," Prof. Sinclair said.
The team also tested the same experiment on human kidney cells in their laboratory and achieved similar results.
Future of Anti-Aging Drugs
Prof. Sinclair and his team are convinced that their breakthrough discovery would help change the face of medicine since it will impact human health and longevity.
This is also good news for cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy since it will be able to reverse the damage from the radiation in their bodies and prevent chronic illnesses as they age. Likewise, it is also good news for astronauts who could experience accelerated aging from cosmic rays while in space. In fact, NASA has already shown interest in the study.
"This is the closest we are to a safe and effective anti-ageing drug that's perhaps only three to five years away from being on the market if the trials go well," Sinclair said.