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Hong Kong researchers successfully perfect anti-aging process on mice

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 24th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A tragic condition that causes children to develop the signs of old age before their time, resulting in wrinkles and organ failure - called progeria, has led researchers in Hong Kong to successfully find the paths to halt the process in mice. It is hoped that this application will be shortly transferred to human beings.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As published in this month's issue of Cell Metabolism, the study builds on their work begun in 2005 which shed light on progeria, the rare genetic disease that affects one in four million babies.

Children afflicted with progeria become highly evident before the child turns a year old. Although their mental faculties are normal, the said afflicted children stop growing, lose body fat and suffer from wrinkled skin and hair loss. As is the case with the elderly, they suffer stiff joints and a buildup of plaque in arteries which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Most afflicted with the condition die before they are 20 years old.

The team at the University of Hong Kong found that a mutation in the Lamin A protein, which lines the nucleus in human cells, disrupted the repair process in cells, thus resulting in accelerated aging.

In their most recent work, which used both mice and experiments in petri dishes, they found that normal and healthy Lamin A binds to and activates the gene SIRT1, which experts have long associated with longevity.

"We can develop drugs that mimic Lamin A or increase the binding between Lamin A and SIRT1," Liu Baohua, research assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Hong Kong said.

The team went then went to see if the binding efficiency between Lamin A and SIRTI would be boosted with resveratrol, a compound found in the skin of red grapes and other fruits. The compound has been heralded by some scientists and companies as a way to slow aging or remain healthy as people get older.

Study leader Associate professor Zhou Zhongjun said healthy mice fed with concentrated resveratrol fared significantly better than healthy mice not given the compound.

"We actually delayed the onset of ageing and extended the healthy lifespan," Zhou said of the mice.

Furthermore, mice with progeria lived 30 percent longer when fed with resveratrol compared with progerial mice not given the compound.

When asked if drinking red wine delays ageing and reduces the risk of heart disease, Zhou said the alcohol content in wine would cause harm before any benefit could be derived.

"The amount of resveratrol in red wine is very low and it may not be beneficial. But the alcohol will cause damage to the body," Zhou said.

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