~ Enzyme Discovery Could Lead to Life-Extending Drugs

U.S. researchers have discovered a way of increasing the activity of potent anti-aging enzymes called sirtuins. David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School and colleagues found several biologically active compounds that can more than double sirtuin activity.

One of these compounds was resveratrol, the antioxidant that is largely responsible for the health benefits of red wine. When the scientists added some of these compounds to yeast cells growing in culture, the cells produced 70% more daughter cells than normal - the production of daughter cells is a reliable indicator of yeast's youthfulness.

Tests on human cells also produced promising results. Those treated with sirtuin boosters lived long lives in the lab, even after exposure to DNA-damaging ionizing radiation, which normally shortens the lifespan of a cell. Furthermore, preliminary results of ongoing experiments suggest that these compounds can extend the lifespan of a nematode worm known as C. elegans, and the fruit fly.

Sinclair says that his findings suggest that sirtuins "serve as guardians of the cell" and "allow cells to survive damage and delay cell death." Sinclair's work adds further support to the increasingly popular theory that sirtuins control aging in virtually all living organisms. Therefore, it may be that sirtuin boosters will provide us with a potent class of anti-aging drugs, and possibly the much longed for fountain of youth.

SOURCE/REFERENCE: Reported by www.washingtonpost.com on the 25th August 2003.


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