The New Anti-Aging Science

Aging is humans is a complex topic, but is generally understood to be the gradual, and mostly irreversible, process where the body cells become less efficient and more dysfunctional over time, leading to their eventual failure, and thus the deterioration of the organism, and eventual death due to critical organ failure or disease.  The exact cause of this process has been unravelled recently, and it is due to the loss of epigenetic control over our gene expression with time.  Dr. David Sinclair discusses this in detail in his book “Lifespan.”  Essentially, as we age our genes remain the same, but how they are turned on/off becomes defective.  This can be due to normal cell division, but made worse by stresses to the cell such as poor nutrition, excess food intake, toxins, inflammation, infections.  So an old persons cells may only be working  at 30% efficiency where a new baby may have cells working at 99% efficiency.  Thus, the signs of aging.

So the question arises, can anything be done to fix this process?  The answer is yes, if you are a mouse.  In Dr. Sinclair’s lab, they have succeeded in making young mice age faster, and have reversed the age of old mice, making them younger.  This is done by activating 3 special proteins in cells, normally used during embryonic development, called Yamanaka factors.  When the old cells are made to produce these proteins, the genetic code and it’s epigenetic controls is “rebooted” to a younger age and the cells function as if they are younger.  This has also been done in human skin cells in a lab.  By applying these proteins, the cells reverse-aged the equivalent of 20 years in a week.  Currently there are many labs and private companies  trying to develop a system or drugs for activating these proteins, first in monkeys and then in humans to reverse-age our cells.  Hopefully this will succeed and we can reverse our age at will, if we choose.

What can we do in the meantime to slow our rate of aging, or even reverse it somewhat?  More on that in Anti-Aging Part 2

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