segunda-feira, 1 de dezembro de 2008

Harvard Scientists Unravel The Secret Of Aging

November 28, 2008
By Max Brenn

As we get older, our health becomes our worst enemy. What’s the secret of living a longer healthy life, is a question still unanswered. At least until today, when Harvard researchers sustain that they might know the secret of aging.

Their paper published in this week issue of the journal Cell is the latest to draw attention to sirtuins, proteins involved in the aging process. Sirtuins become increasingly important as people age, according to lead author David A. Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School professor and co-founder of the Cambridge biotechnology company Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The proteins help maintain a youthful pattern of gene expression by ensuring that the genes that should be “off” remain silent.

The same proteins appear to also repair DNA damage as we age, Harvard researchers found.

“The critical protein controls both which genes are off and on as well as DNA repair; it's used for both processes, and that's the catch,” said Sinclair.

As we get older, more and more chromosomes get damaged and the SIR1 proteins can’t handle both jobs as well. This causes gene activity to go “haywire” leading to symptoms associated with the process of aging.

Bu the good part is just starting. The scientists have found evidence that the aging process can be slowed. They discovered that mice with more SIRT1 proteins have an improved ability to repair the DNA and to prevent the unwanted changes in the gene expressions.

Previous studies have shown that resveratrol, a chemical found primarily in red wine, helps activate the SIRT1 protein, which aids in the repair of broken chromosome. It’s true that the studies have been conducted on mice, but it’s an important step forward and a reason to believe that the possibility of improving our life is closer than we think.

The studies showed that resveratrol (which is also found in the crust of peanuts and walnuts, in grapes, peanut butter, pistachios and other foods) seemed to ward off the effect of age on heart, bones, eyes and muscles of mice, improving conditions such as cataracts, osteoporosis and poor motor coordination, conditions that are also making the elderly very frail. Therefore, life is prolonged since the chemical reduces at the same time degenerative diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer’s. Also certain cancers could be treated with drugs containing this ingredient if proven efficacious.

However, the researchers said it would be too early for people to start taking resveratrol in order to improve health, as the compound might interact with other drugs. However, if drugs containing resveratrol are not yet available, one glass of wine at dinner won’t do you any harm. Besides “warming” the atmosphere, there’s plenty of evidence showing that it protects your heart from aging and everybody needs a younger heart in order to have a longer life. Cheers!

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