In a growing aging population, increasing life expectancy is becoming a secondary concern to mitigating age-related disease and the associated repercussions. Improving health outcomes for rising older population is necessary to decrease the socio-economic burden of age-related disease, while promoting overall population health. Although the human lifespan has greatly expanded over the past century, good health and its maintenance remain topics of importance. Recently, dietary solutions to quelling the aging process have surged in popularity, with intermittent fasting, calorie restriction, and other diet plans spearheading the movement.
Despite strenuous controversies, the field of sirtuin research is growing with an increasing number of recent studies revealing their promising connection to longevity. After many years of investigation, understanding of the activity of the silent information regulator 2 (Sir2) family (‘sirtuins’) has greatly expanded, proving its significant involvement in the regulation of many fundamental biological processes. Dr. Leonard Guarente, co-founder of Elysium Health and director of MIT’s Glenn Center for Biology of Aging, stands at the forefront of sirtuin research efforts.
A recent DNA repair discovery could potentially lead to the creation of drugs that can reverse aging, fight cancer, and help assist in eliminating the effects radiation exposure. While it has long been known that DNA repair is essential for cell vitality, cell survival, and cancer prevention, the decline in cells’ ability to repair damaged DNA with age has not been fully understood.
A team of scientists at Harvard Medical School has identified a critical step in assessing how cells repair damaged DNA. Published in the journal Science, the international team’s study pinpointed a vitamin called NAD+, which regulated the interactions that control DNA repair. When mice were given an NAD+ booster called NMN, experiments indicated that their cells were more effective in repairing DNA damage caused by aging, and radiation exposure. The mice’s DNA repair activities markedly shifted to ‘youthful levels,’ and further trials demonstrated that they were more resistant to radiation; therefore, they were more protected against cancer and aging itself.
Human trials of NMN therapy will begin in Boston, in the next six months. One of the lead professors on the team from Harvard discussed the potential for evaluating how people walk, their strength, and ultimately transitioning the molecule to a substance on the drug market, in order to treat diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. The results further shed light on a possible therapy to avert the unwanted side effects of environmental radiation, by restoring NAD levels by NMN treatment—in addition to radiation exposure from cancer treatments.