Can a Drug Really Reverse the Aging Process?
1st June 2017
skin and scalpThe quest for better looking skin is one Medical Specialists® Pharmacy are familiar with, with thousands of people coming to us each year seeking help in improving the appearance of their skin, or trying to find an effective acne treatment. However, there is exciting news for such people today with the news that scientists are working on a revolutionary anti-aging drug. Some early trials have apparently shown that naturally occurring compound nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) had a significant impact on the aging of mice. Lead scientist Professor David Sinclair, from the University of South Wales (USW) in Australia and Harvard Medical School in the US, said: “The cells of the old mice were indistinguishable from the young mice, after just one week of treatment. “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.” NMN increases the levels of NAD+, an oxidised form of the chemical nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. This is present in the cells of the body, working to control the protein interactions that affect DNA repair. Built-up DNA damage is widely thought to be a primacy factor behind natural aging and a main cause of cancer. Amounts of a co-enzyme ‘helper’ chemical known as NAD+ which assists essential proteins, diminishes as people age. The chemical’s possible anti-aging properties has meant NAD+ supplements are quickly popping up on the internet, although there are no studies showing that low-dose supplements can fight aging. Reported in the journal Science, the new research demonstrated how NAD+ boosts the activity of DNA repair enzyme PARP1. PARP1 struggles to fix damaged DNA with lower levels of NAD+ as people age. NASA has been drawn to the research, with the space exploration giants trying to find how they can shield astronauts from the effects of radiation during the long trip to Mars. Sustained unprotected cosmic radiation dramatically increases the risk of the astronauts developing cancer. Therefore NASA ran a competition searching for a possible way to combat the issue, which was subsequently won by Professor Sinclair’s team in 2016. Professor Sinclair and USW colleague Dr Lindsay Wu have spent four years working alongside two spin-off companies MetroBiotech NSW and MetroBiotech International to turn NMN into a drug treatment. This year should see the first clinical trial starting at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, US. Dr Wu says that in addition to helping astronauts, NMN may protect frequent flyers from the damaging impact of radiation on passenger jets, as well as preventing the accelerated ageing evident in childhood cancer survivors. According to Dr Wu, 96% of childhood cancer survivors develop a chronic illness by the age of 45, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s or cancer. “It would be great to do something about that, and we believe we can with this molecule,” said Dr Wu.