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Have Scientists Found Anti-Aging Drug?

Have Scientists Found Anti-Aging Drug?
March 28
11:33 2017

It’s pretty much a given that the vast majority of people want to live as long as possible. Partly because they are afraid of death, partly because they enjoy their life here on earth and partly because of family and close friends. The thought of living longer appeals to many, but not all.

But what causes aging? Over the years, I’ve seen numerous papers linking aging to a structure found in our DNA known as a telomere. They are a group of repetitive nucleotides found at the ends of our chromosomes. They prevent the ends from becoming from fraying or damaged. However, every time a chromosome replicates itself, the telomere is shortened just a bit. They can be rebuilt or repaired by an enzyme known as telomerase reverse transciptase, but over time, even that cannot prevent the telomere from becoming too short. When the telomere gets too short, the DNA and hence the cell can no longer replicate itself and it dies. This is what causes age-related degeneration of most of our body – we literally find ourselves at the end of our telomeres and life. Some areas of the body, like our skin, hair and immune system, deteriorate faster with age because those cells are replicated more frequently than many other in the body.

Radiation also affects telomeres, resulting in the faster dying of some cells, organs and bodies.

A recent announcement from the University of New South Wales, in Australia, may provide hope for those who don’t want to grow or look old:

“In a paper published in Science today, the team identifies a critical step in the molecular process that allows cells to repair damaged DNA.”

“Their experiments in mice suggest a treatment is possible for DNA damage from ageing and radiation. It is so promising it has attracted the attention of NASA, which believes the treatment can help its Mars mission…”

“The scientists identified that the metabolite NAD+, which is naturally present in every cell of our body, has a key role as a regulator in protein-to-protein interactions that control DNA repair.”

“Treating mice with a NAD+ precursor, or ‘booster,’ called NMN improved their cells’ ability to repair DNA damage caused by radiation exposure or old age.”

“‘The cells of the old mice were indistinguishable from the young mice, after just one week of treatment,’ said lead author Professor David Sinclair of UNSW School of Medical Sciences and Harvard Medical School Boston.”

“Human trials of NMN therapy will begin within six months.”

“‘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,’ says Sinclair, who maintains a lab at UNSW in Sydney.”

Besides the obvious benefit of slowing down the aging process, NASA has expressed a great deal of interest in the process as well. They figure their missions to Mars will be about 4 years long and the process, if found to be successful, may help keep the men and women healthier on their long trek to the Red Planet and back.

While everyone is excited about the prospect of an anti-aging drug, I can’t help but think of a negative side as well. Just because people might live longer doesn’t mean they’ll be free from illnesses and conditions like cancer, heart-related, and so on. If our current medical system is already having problems coping with the high costs of keeping so many people alive longer, what will happen if many of us begin living an extra 10-20 years?

Not only will it affect the healthcare industry but also the retirement systems. Few companies have pension programs and Social Security was only meant as a supplement for about 3-5 years when it was first past. Unfortunately, with the disappearance of pensions, far too many seniors rely on Social Security, which is why the federal system is facing dire financial problems in the very near future. If a number of people start living even longer, that will place an even greater burden on Social Security.

Frankly, with all my health issues – living in constant severe pain, weakened immune system, chronic tiredness and several opposing sleep disorders, I look forward to death. But then again, I have the assurance of my faith and a life after death that to me, is worth looking forward to.

 

 

 

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