Boston, MA, United States (4E) – A joint experiment by American and Australian scientists has reversed the ageing process in mice equivalent to turning the muscles of a 60-year-old person to that of a 20-year-old, according to the journal Cell.
The study of the scientists from Harvard Medical School in Boston, the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Maryland, and the University of New South Wales, Sydney published in Cell on Thursday said the level of a chemical called NAD drops in all cell’s as the body ages and disrupts the function of the mitochondria, which generates the cell’s energy. As the mitochondrial dysfunction increases, age-related conditions set in.
Ana Gomes, a postdoctoral scientist working with Harvard Medical School Professor of Genetics David Sinclair, senior author of the study, found that by administering an endogenous compound that mice cells transform into NAD, the gene SIRT1 prevents the molecule called HIF-1 from interfering with the communication of the cell’s nucleus and mitochondria. In effect, the function of the mitochondria is restored.
In two-year-old mice given the NAD-producing compound for just one week, muscle wasting was reversed and the tissue from the mice resembled that of six-month-old mice. This is equivalent to transforming a 60-year-old person’s muscle to that of a 20-year-old. The muscle strength of the mice did not improve but Gomes said longer treatment may restore it.
Gomes clarified that ageing has many aspects and their experiment only deals with one aspect. The research group plans to conduct clinical trials in 2015 to test their findings.
Dr. Ali Tavassoli, from the University of Southampton, said further experiments are needed to find out how changes in the cell can affect the whole organism or not at all.