14 January 2009

Medicines for prolonging life

We will live longer. It seems that there are already medicines for prolonging life
Alexander Melnikov, AIF Health, 14.01.2009

Humanity is one step away from registering anti-aging drugs. A group of scientists from Harvard and a number of other leading research centers have proved the existence in nature of a universal aging mechanism typical of all living organisms – from the simplest unicellular yeast to the crown of creation – man. And at the same time, during the experiment, they extended the life of mice by one and a half times – by 24-46%.

Crisis = old ageIt turns out that all living organisms age the same way.

The same genes and the same biochemical reactions are to blame for this. Ironically, the essence of these processes is very similar to what is happening in the world right now – the global financial crisis. Scientists constantly emphasize the similarity of these two processes: the cause of the crisis could be insufficient state control over the economy, and the cause of aging – insufficient supervision of the body for the so-called "sleeping" genes.

– Any cell of our body, whether it is a liver, kidney or brain cell, has exactly the same set of genes, – explains Peter Chumakov, Professor, Doctor of Biological Sciences, head of the cell proliferation laboratory of the V. A. Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Department of Molecular Genetics of the Lerner Research Institute in Cleveland (USA). – The only difference is that most of the genes in these cells do not work, they are in a state of hibernation. For example, in a liver cell, only those genes that are needed for this organ to work are active. And the genes necessary for the activity of the kidneys, brain and all other organs are turned off. They are called "sleeping" or "silent" genes. So that they do not "wake up", they are "packed" in a special way. And, as American scientists have established, they are supported in such a dormant state by special proteins – sirtuins. They derive their name from a family of seven genes bearing the "surname" SIRT (see Table 1). If these four letters are translated into everyday language, you will get something like the following: "regulators of "silent" genes".

Kidney in the liverThe chain of events that prevent aging looks like this: the genes of the SIRT family trigger the synthesis of sirtuins, which, in turn, make the extra genes "silent".

This plays a crucial role, because if the genes responsible for the activity of the kidneys "wake up" and start working in the liver cells, synthesizing proteins that are unnecessary for this organ, then the liver will have problems. Excess proteins will disrupt the work of liver cells, leading to errors in regulation, accumulation of harmful substances, aging and cell death.

In a new study, it was found for the first time that in animals and humans, sirtuins work on two fronts. They not only repair damaged genes, but also keep dormant genes under the yoke. This clearly suggests that SIRT genes and sirtuins play a major role in aging. Two conclusions follow from this.

The first, pessimistic:

– There may not be enough Sirtuins to conduct operations on two fronts, – says Pyotr Chumakov. – Busy healing damage, they weaken control over the "silent" genes. As a result, unnecessary genes are activated and interfere with the work of normal cells. If this happens often, then the aging processes develop faster.

But the second conclusion is optimistic. We can influence these processes by increasing the activity of sirtuins so that they are enough for activity on both fronts. To do this, you can use the natural substance resveratrol contained in red wine. And plus, several drugs are being developed that are even more active than resveratrol (see Table 2). And, it seems, they may be even more effective than previously thought. After all, the role of sirtuins in slowing down aging is much greater than previously thought. This means that we are on the threshold of a new era in pharmacology – the era of life extension.

Table 1. The family of SIRT genes responsible for making unnecessary cells "sleep"The SIRT 1 gene

it has a positive effect on metabolism, prevents the development of diseases of the heart, blood vessels, nervous system, kidneys, cancer, inflammatory diseases. It stimulates the development of mitochondria (energy stations in our cells).

The SIRT 2 gene

it has a positive effect on metabolism, prevents the development of diseases of the nervous system.

The SIRT 3 and SIRT 4 genes

they have a positive effect on metabolism, stimulate the development of mitochondria.

The SIRT 5 gene

prevents the development of diseases of the nervous system.

The SIRT 6 gene

prevents the development of cancer.

The SIRT 7 gene

prevents the development of heart and vascular diseases.

Table 2. Medicines for prolonging lifeThe drug SRT501

it is made on the basis of resveratrol, but it is 5 times more active (the drug is undergoing the final stage of testing).

The drug SRT2104

a substance with an activity almost 1000 times greater than that of resveratrol (safety tests have been conducted in volunteers, studies in patients begin this year).

A drug that regulates the activity of the SIRT 2 gene

the research is just beginning.

Portal "Eternal youth" www.vechnayamolodost.ru14.01.2009

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