Can Human Aging be Altered?

There are two guarantees in life; death and taxes. Well, death may be something that could be prolonged according to some scientists. For now, let’s put aside all the problems that living longer may cause and the global  impact on overpopulation of the Earth and just imagine living longer as a singular issue.

Testing for Anti-Aging 

Even though I’m sure many people view this as an absurd task, there is some hope that scientists could be able to reverse the aging process. For example, “At Harvard, they bred genetically manipulated mice that lacked an enzyme called telomerase that stops telomeres from getting shorter. Without the enzyme, the mice aged prematurely and suffered ailments, including a poor sense of smell, smaller brain size, infertility and damaged intestines and spleens. But when DePinho gave the mice injections to reactivate the enzyme, it repaired the damaged tissues and reversed the signs of (aging).”(The Guardian) To me, this truly something because humans and mice share roughly 99% similar genetic traits, according to Eric Lander, who plays a prominent role in genomic research in Cambridge, Mass. Due to the strides found by Harvard’s study, human testing could begin as soon as next year.

MiceAgingPicture found on Sydney Morning Herald

Background of Study

Professor David Sinclair, who is a molecular biologist at Harvard University, highlighted that the discovery found could help scientists treat cancer, which is an age-related disease. “The aging process we discovered is like a married couple! – when they are young, they communicate well. But over time, living in close quarters for many years, communication breaks down… And just like a couple, restoring communication solved the problem,” said Professor Sinclair.(Sydney Morning Herald) However, in order to solve this problem, Sinclair and others on the study had to find how to better improve communication among cells, which would cause aging to be effectively ‘reversed.’

How did Professor Sinclair and others involved with the study improve communication between cells?

As many people know, communication in marriage is something that is vital to the longevity of the relationship between  two people. Now, use this same logic and apply it to cells in the human body. These cells depend on each other to do their job in order to effectively perform the functions of the body. “To improve communication inside cells, researchers gave mice injections containing the naturally occurring compound NMN, which raises the levels of a molecule called NAD. This molecule repairs the cells’ communication network.”(Sydney Morni! ng Herald) This molecule referred to as NAD(nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) “is used alternately with NADH as an oxidizing or reducing agent in metabolic reactions.”(Dictionary) Mitochondria and aging go hand in hand; as mitochondria begins to decay humans begin to age. However, the reason NAD could be an effective way to slow down the , “reverse mitochondrial decay with dietary supplements that increase cellular levels…”(Scientific American) in the molecule NAD.

Don’t get your hopes up yet though.

Even though the studies on the mice are very promising, similar to the Philadelphia 76ers, everything needs to come together in order for this study to move from having potential to having credibility. For example, there has never been a human study trial, which will most likely take years to be certain that the NAD molecule could actually slow down the aging of a human being. Until that moment, all we can do is dream of what it might be like to be one of those mice who is ‘ageless.’

Leave a Reply