Saturday, 1 March 2014

Claims of 'anti-ageing pill' may be premature


The Daily Telegraph and Daily Express both carry headlines about how a “pill” to help humans live longer could be on the cards. Though while the substance being studied shows promise, the research only involved mice.

Researchers were looking at a chemical called SRT1720 which activates a particular protein called Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1). Previous research has demonstrated that activating SIRT1 can have health benefits in various organisms, and it has been proposed as an anti-ageing protein.

This study focused on comparing the lifespan, health and diseases of mice fed the same diet, but with or without the addition of a SRT1720. Overall they found mice fed a normal diet but with the supplement had a longer natural lifespan on average (about five weeks longer). During their lifetime, additional tests also suggested they had improved muscle function and coordination, improved metabolism, improved glucose tolerance, decreased body fat and cholesterol. All in all this suggests that giving the mice this supplement could protect them from the equivalent of metabolic syndrome, a series of risk factors associated with conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

This is interesting research but as it only involved mice, the normal caveats regarding animal studies apply. Importantly, researchers did not look at whether SIRT1 may cause side effects or complications. So it is currently unclear whether SIRT1 would be safe in humans, let alone effective. The SIRT1 protein could be a possible candidate in the quest to find an “elixir of life” but these are very early days.

reposted from:
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