Drugs designed to target one aspect of aging also seem to help repair DNA damage and regulate gene activity, preventing them from going haywire with the stresses of time.
"In principle, we now could have a way of reversing the effects of aging," said David Sinclair, a Harvard University gerontologist and co-founder of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, a company best-known for its development of an experimental drug called resveratrol.
Resveratrol and similar compounds activate an enzyme called SIRT1. The enzyme rejuvenates mitochondria, the machines that power our cells. Mitochondrial breakdown has been associated with many age-related diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and dementia. Several labs in addition to Sirtris are researching compounds that target mitochondria.
The new findings suggest that SIRT1 fixes DNA in addition to mitochondria.
Sinclair's team found that unless SIRT1 enzymes gathered at sites where DNA had started to unravel, other DNA repair proteins failed to arrive. This allowed damage to progress, eventually causing dormant genes to come alive, a process called deregulation.
Some researchers think gene deregulation is a cause of aging: As cells get older, they produce less SIRT1, ostensibly becoming less able to repair faulty DNA and suppress the dormant genes.
But in mice either given resveratrol or genetically engineered to produce extra SIRT1 on their own, repairs went smoothly and quickly.
"One idea of why we age is that DNA becomes damaged or mutated," said Sinclair, lead author of the research published Wednesday in Cell. "But perhaps the main culprit is the effect of genes switching on and off, and that should be reversible."
What to do? Detailed information for chronic fatigue patients but useful and informative for all to follow is in a pdf - here.
Supplements of Alpha-lipoic acid, L-carnitine and Co-enzyme Q10 to restore mitrochondrial function http://articles.latimes.com/2008/aug/25/health/he-skeptic25
Scholarly articles on ALCAR treatment can be accessed at Mitochondrial.net, here.
One protocol in an individual with mitochondrial disease called for the following:
Alpha-lipoic Acid (ALA) 300 mg 2x/day
Co-Q-10 200 mg 2x/day
Creatine Monohydrate powder 2.5 gm 2x/day