Friday, March 24, 2017

What If Cells Get Better at Fixing Themselves - Science

When we're young, vibrant, and look sooo hot in our bell-bottomed blue jeans, our cells have great skills for repairing themselves and ensuring their DNA isn't damaged.  As we age, we get less good at that ... but what if we didn't lose that skill.  (Science Daily:  Scientists unveil a giant leap for anti-aging)

Check out their group pic:

This is professor David Sinclair and his UNSW team

Credit: Britta Campion

Contrary to the appearance of the way they were posed, they do not represent an upcoming TV show.

UNSW researchers have made a discovery that could lead to a revolutionary drug that actually reverses ageing, improves DNA repair and could even help NASA get its astronauts to Mars.

In a paper published in Science today, the team identifies a critical step in the molecular process that allows cells to repair damaged DNA.

Their experiments in mice suggest a treatment is possible for DNA damage from ageing and radiation. It is so promising it has attracted the attention of NASA, which believes the treatment can help its Mars mission.

- SD

Those statements are bold so what have we got here.

While our cells have an innate capability to repair DNA damage --  which happens every time we go out into the sun, for example -- their ability to do this declines as we age.

The scientists identified that the metabolite NAD+, which is naturally present in every cell of our body, has a key role as a regulator in protein-to-protein interactions that control DNA repair.

Treating mice with a NAD+ precursor, or "booster," called NMN improved their cells' ability to repair DNA damage caused by radiation exposure or old age.

"The cells of the old mice were indistinguishable from the young mice, after just one week of treatment," said lead author Professor David Sinclair of UNSW School of Medical Sciences and Harvard Medical School Boston.

- SD

That justifies a good measure of boldness.  Results observed after one week?  Well ...

It's going commercial:

For the past four years, Professor Sinclair and Dr Wu have been working on making NMN into a drug substance with their companies MetroBiotech NSW and MetroBiotech International.

The human trials will begin this year at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston.

The findings on NAD+ and NMN add momentum to the exciting work the UNSW Laboratory for Ageing Research has done over the past four years.

- SD

The Rockhouse questions whether this is anywhere near a public release but there was recent science regarding the majority of mutations in DNA come from broken DNA (i.e. the existing maintenance mechanisms broke it).  Therefore, the type of approach offered today could have substantial positive consequences but we're not clear on how much testing has been done when we only see mice in the current experiments.

Roll the current experiment up with this one about cancer.  (MedicalNewsToday: Most cancer mutations result from DNA copying errors)

Best way to cure cancer is to prevent it and maybe they're onto it.

Sorting the hype from the real is on you and that's why the Rockhouse never paraphrases anything in these types of articles.  When there's a commercial incentive, things get distorted.  The interested student is always invited to continue to pursue the source article and find for yourself.

Before you get too dismissive about one-off results, Harvard did it too.  (Science Daily:  Critical step in DNA repair, cellular aging pinpointed)

As with NSW, their report presents magical things.

In a final step, scientists exposed mice to DNA-damaging radiation. Cells of animals pre-treated with NMN showed lower levels of DNA damage. Such mice also didn't exhibit the typical radiation-induced aberrations in blood counts, such as altered white cell counts and changes in lymphocyte and hemoglobin levels. The protective effect was seen even in mice treated with NMN after radiation exposure.

Taken together, the results shed light on the mechanism behind cellular demise induced by DNA damage. They also suggest that restoring NAD levels by NMN treatment should be explored further as a possible therapy to avert the unwanted side effects of environmental radiation, as well as radiation exposure from cancer treatments.

- SD

The Harvard article presents quite a bit of the chemical interaction so likely both will be of value if this content really lights you up.  Here at the Rockhouse, it looks like there's merit for that.

No comments: