4 major discoveries to lengthen life

4 major discoveries to lengthen life


Not a day goes by without a scientific study seeking to understand aging and improve longevity. This subject has always preoccupied man. Today, science has made it possible to obtain very real results, even if it is true that they have been observed in animals rather than in humans.

It is also not rare that the discovery of one day, classified as revolutionary, is later called into question (for example: effect of telomerase, role of antioxidants, etc.). It turns out that the effects and causes of aging are actually very complex and intricate. We are far from having understood everything.

Either way, here are 4 recent discoveries with some of the most impressive results.

1. A young subject can rejuvenate an old one by giving blood

In one experiment, researchers passed the blood of a young mouse through the circulation of an older mouse for 1 month (Loffredo et al. 2013). They were then able to observe that the cardiac hypertrophy of the old mouse had disappeared and that his heart had thus “rejuvenated”.

Researchers have shown that a protein (GDF 11) present in large quantities in young subjects and which decreases with age, was the cause of this cardiac rejuvenation.

Injections of GDF 11 were then tested and showed that this protein could also improve memory, endurance, muscle strength… in laboratory animals. Demontis et al in 2014 shows (on flies) that the equivalent of GDF 11 also acts on tissues other than muscle and even increases their lifespan.

Finally, the legendary vampires, sucking the blood of young victims to have eternal life, may have been right, but the GDF11 may be easier to use! In any case, scientists are now looking for ways to increase our levels of GDF11.

2. Extend his life through his behavior

DNA epigeneticsGenetic research has managed to decode our DNA and to know the functions of almost all the genes that make it up. Our genes of course work according to those of our parents, it is heredity.

However, it is now established that, in the functioning of our genes as in the predisposition to certain diseases, our heredity would count 2 to 3 times less than our way of life. It’s’epigenetics.

This science describes how the expression of our genes can be modified by our diet, our habits, stress, the environment, etc.

You can’t change your genes, but you can change the way they work.

Our aging programmed in our genes?

For several years, we have known that certain genes have a major influence on our aging, either by accelerating it or by slowing it down. Many researchers set out to study ways to modify. In particular, they saw that some of our enzymes, the “sirtuins”, were very much involved in the management of aging processes and in the risk of declaring certain age-related diseases.

For example, one of sirtuins (SIRT1) which acts on many processes slowing down cellular senescence, is activated by caloric restriction, physical exercise,1 sleep and fasting (see lifestyle).

Eat less and sleep more to lengthen life

As early as the 1930s, researchers succeeded in extending the life of mice by reducing their daily food intake. This had made more than one doctor smile because no mechanism for this supposed effect on humans was clearly explained. Since then, many studies have repeated this experiment on other experimental animals (worms, flies, mice, etc.) and the discovery of sirtuins (thus activated by caloric restriction) has provided us with tangible explanations for these results.

Other protocols have also been shown to be effective in extending lifespan. For example, certain physical exercises, meditation and stress management techniques, sleep improvement, etc.

Most often, these changes in lifestyle or in our environment act by modifying the expression of our genes, which is therefore not “frozen”. This modification of the behavior of our genes is accessible to everyone. It is very interesting to improve our longevity and reduce the incidence of diseases related to aging. This process capable of lengthening our life, despite our heredity, is therefore calledepigenetics (see this article).

3. Brand new stamina, strength and muscle with NAD+

NAD+ is a molecule present in all living beings, involved in our cellular process of manufacturing energy from glucose and fatty acids in our body. This happens in our famous mitochondria*the “powerhouses” of our cells.

It would seem that the poor functioning of our mitochondria, and the loss of energy and muscle strength of aging, are very much linked to the drop in NAD+. Like our hormones, our production of NAD+ decreases with advancing age. If so, it would be enough to increase it to improve its energy. But how to boost this NAD+?

In mice, the Professor Sinclair in 2013shows that the muscles of an elderly subject can find a new youth by increasing their level of NAD+ with nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). The appearance of the muscles of old mice and thus treated in only 8 days is almost indistinguishable from that of young subjects. Extrapolating to humans, this would be the equivalent of 20-year-old muscles in a 60-year-old subject.

NAD+ promotes the action of sirtuins, these recently discovered enzymes. We now know that sirtuins can activate longevity genes and deactivate genes that promote inflammation and the senescence process. In fact, NAD+ and sirtuins are involved in the production of energy in our cells (energy metabolism).

grapesIt has been shown that a molecule like nicotinamide riboside (a vitamin B3 derivative) could also increase cellular levels of NAD+. Likewise, the resveratrola polyphenol found in grapes and certain berries, could do the same.

Some probiotics like Saccharomyces yeasts and lactobacillus bacteria are able to synthesize nicotinamide riboside in our intestines. The former are found in brewer’s and baker’s yeast, the latter in lactic ferments. An intestinal flora containing them in sufficient quantity could therefore increase our levels of NAD+ and our energy (Sweden’s Lund University found the L. reuteri elevated the availability of succinic acid which works with NAD).

Also note that stretching muscle fibers increases their NAD+ levels. One more reason to practice yoga or stretching.

Finally, let us mention that a drop of solution of methylene blue at 2% (a dye used on food) every day can slow down the aging of our cells and improve the functioning of our mitochondria (FASEB J. 2008).

We have no doubt that future studies will show us the action of other substances or behaviors on NAD+ levels and our production of mitochondrial energy.

4. Making new human cells from old ones

GenoaIn 2011, Jean-Marc Lemaitre and his collaborators at Inserm have succeeded in “reprogramming” the genes of old human cells (of centenarian subjects) and turning them into pluripotent stem cells. These cells are numerous in the embryo and become rarer in the adult as we age. They are capable of giving rise to any type of body cells: skin, neurons, digestive, muscle, bone cells, etc.

We already knew how to reprogram human cells into stem cells, but these retained signs of senescence, which prevented them from multiplying after a certain time. However, the Inserm team has demonstrated that it is possible to reverse the aging process of a cell until a young cell is obtained, identical to an embryonic stem cell. A real rejuvenation, a reset of the counters…

Indeed, the stem cells thus formed no longer show any signs of aging. More so, their ability to multiply and their lifespan are increased. True science fiction!

The aging of our cells has been shown to be reversible

This reprogramming was possible using a cocktail of 6 factors acting on the genes of the cells, which is the subject of a patent.

This opens up endless possibilities in research to improve longevity, as well as in the regeneration of damaged tissues or organs after disease or trauma. However, it should be noted that the medical use of stem cells and genetic manipulations are highly regulated. Ethics laws limit their use.

But who knows what the future holds…

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