latest research and developments in
science of anti aging has a new star – sirtuins. An important
study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has put the research
spotlight on a family of enzymes called ‘sirtuins.’
may be wondering why that matters to you. Well if you’re
interested in how to look younger and age gracefully -- sirtuins
may matter more than you know.
first started to focus on the role of sirtuins in anti aging
in 2001. At that time, studies were done at many top universities
to investigate the effects of calorie restriction on life extension.
of the off-shoots of these studies was to establish a clear
link between sirtuins and lifespan extension.
a more recent study has revealed the huge anti aging potential
of sirtuins in a way that has many biotechnology companies eager
to take developments further. Possible applications include
the development of new drugs for diabetes and neurological disorders
like Alzheimers and Huntingdons.
more exciting -- for those of us who care about wrinkles --
is the use of sirtuins in the development of new anti aging
skin care ingredients.
science behind these developments is complex and can be difficult
to grasp. Even if you don’t want to know too much about
‘the science bit’ -- you’d do well to remember
’sirtuins’ and ‘resveratrol’ -- there’s
no doubt they are set to become the new anti aging buzz-words.
have found for the first time a way to rev up a potent "anti-aging"
enzyme in living cells, an advance they said could speed the
development of drugs to extend human life span and prevent a
wide range of geriatric diseases.
novel approach has significantly increased the life spans of
yeast and human cells in laboratory dishes and extended the
lives of flies and worms -- organisms that, on the level of
molecular biology, age very much as humans do. Indeed, said
the researchers, the compounds seem to have the same anti-aging
effect as a drastic reduction in calories, the only strategy
ever proven to extend life in mammals but one that most people
find difficult to stick to.
is too soon to say whether the latest findings will ever make
the leap from the lab bench to the geriatrics clinic -- though
some may choose not to wait: Of all the compounds the researchers
tested, the one that boosted the anti-aging enzyme the most
was resveratrol, an ingredient in red wine that's been credited
with that beverage's ability to lower the risk of heart disease.
the findings strengthen an increasingly popular notion among
many scientists that the cellular enzymes at the core of the
experiments -- sirtuins -- are universal regulators of aging
in virtually all living organisms and represent a prime target
for new anti-aging drugs.
looking like these sirtuins serve as guardians of the cell,"
said Harvard Medical School researcher David Sinclair. "These
enzymes allow cells to survive damage and delay cell death."
the race is on, Sinclair said, to find the most potent sirtuin
stimulators -- or create synthetic ones -- and test their ability
to extend the lives not only of cells, flies and worms but also
of mice, monkeys and humans. Other researchers were more cautious,
warning that aging is a complex and poorly understood process
that is unlikely to be slowed by any single drug. As promising
as the research may appear today, they said, sirtuin would not
be the first fountain of youth to prove a mirage.
face it, aging isn't the same in humans and yeast," said
Jef Boeke, a yeast geneticist at the Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine. Besides, he said, sirtuins are potent molecules
and in cranking them up "one would have to be very careful
about potential side effects." The new study caps a three-year
string of discoveries involving sirtuins (pronounced sir-TOO-ins),
a class of enzymes that are found in virtually every organism,
including bacteria, plants and people. As with all enzymes,
their job is to promote essential biochemical reactions inside
first scientists thought sirtuins spent most of their time pulling
key molecules off the proteins that surround DNA -- part of
the process by which cells turn their genes on and off.
recently researchers learned that sirtuins are also involved
in processes with much more medical -- and commercial -- potential:
They are part of a feedback system that enhances cell survival
during times of stress, especially if that stress is a lack
years researchers have known that life span can be extended
by 50 percent or more in many kinds of creatures, including
flies, worms and mice, if the animal is fed a diet that is nutritious
but contains about 30 percent fewer calories than usual. Recently
scientists found that the life-extending benefits of calorie
restriction do not occur if the animal has been genetically
altered to lack sirtuins, indicating these enzymes are crucial
to this process.
scientists are coming to understand sirtuins' role in that life-extending
response. In people, for example, they seem to halt the normal
cellular cycle that ends with old cells committing suicide and
instead help rejuvenate them by beefing up their DNA repair
processes and stimulating production of protective antioxidants.
we think is that if a cell is at a point of deciding whether
to live or die, these sirtuins push toward the survival mode
and let the cell try a little harder and longer to fix itself,"
said Sinclair, who has a financial stake in a new effort to
develop sirtuin-related products with BIOMOL Research Laboratories
of Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
Guarente, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
in Cambridge, is also enthusiastic about the compounds' potential
as anti-aging aids.
very keen on the idea that this is it" -- that sirtuins
are the central regulator of the aging process -- Guarente said.
He is a founder of Elixir Pharmaceuticals of Cambridge, Mass.,
which, like Sinclair and BIOMOL, hopes to capitalize on chemicals
that can boost sirtuin activity.
goal is to make drugs or nutritional supplements that can fool
the body into thinking it's living on a radically calorie-reduced
diet, in effect allowing people to eat their cake and live longer
new report from Sinclair's team is the first to show that it
is indeed possible to tweak the sirtuin pathway. The group screened
a large number of biologically active chemicals -- simple compounds
that can be made into drugs with relative ease. They found several
that increase sirtuin activity at least two-fold, including
they added some of these compounds to yeast cells growing in
culture dishes, the cells produced 70 percent more daughter
cells than normal -- a common measure of yeast youthfulness.
cells seemed to benefit too. Those treated with sirtuin boosters
enjoyed long lives in laboratory dishes even after being exposed
to ionizing radiation, which damages DNA and usually shortens
a cell's lifespan.
in experiments not yet completed, Sinclair said, the compounds
have shown evidence of being able to extend the life spans of
two full-blown organisms: the soil-dwelling nematode worm known
as C. elegans and the common fruit fly. Both are popular
stand-ins with scientists trying to understand human biological
said his group plans to start feeding sirtuin boosters to mice
in the next few months and then move up to testing in monkeys.
The immediate goal in people would be to slow the progression
of diseases of aging such as Alzheimer's, since a more generic
slowing of the aging process could take decades to prove.
others warned against exaggerated expectations. Richard Weindruch,
a gerontologist and expert in caloric restriction at the University
of Wisconsin in Madison, said the work was "very interesting
and deserves to be carefully explored in mammals." But
he questioned the relevance of the yeast experiments -- which,
strictly speaking, measured not life span but the number of
times a yeast cell could divide and produce daughter cells.
numbers of generations are related to time, but it's not the
same in my mind as following a single animal over its lifetime."
Indeed, Weindruch noted, "What they are really looking
at here is increased proliferative capacity," which he
and others noted is something akin to what cancer is.
Finkelstein, an expert in metabolic regulation at the National
Institute on Aging, which funded some of Sinclair's work, said
the work was "very nice science" but also warned against
leaping to conclusions. "We have results in a lower organism,"
he said, "and at this point there's a lot of hand waving
because of how little we know."
also advised against taking the resveratrol results too literally.
the National Institute on Aging recommend you drink red wine
every day? The answer is 'no'," he said. "If you were
to add a glass of red wine every day without changing your caloric
intake, you're going to gain weight. And we know -- we know
-- that if you gain weight that's going to be harmful while
this 'benefit' is a benefit that may or may not occur."
are always looking for a quick fix," Finkelstein said.
"Tell people to eat a healthy diet."
Drowning in Plastic
Phone Users Beware
Over Olive Oil
and your Toxicity
and Salmon Lice
Soya Bean Conspiracy
Red Meat Take the Heat