Misfolded Proteins and Autophagy
Another article in this issue, “Wrangling Transposons,” identifies misfolded proteins as a cause of accelerated aging. When we’re young, these mistakes of gene expression are cleared from the system by a process of autophagy (self-eating), but this cleanup process seems to slow down as we age. Misfolded proteins then cause all kinds of problem in our cells. The worst impacts, however, are caused by accumulation in the brain.
As I’ve written here before, the ability to turn on autophagy to clear out junk proteins is one of the most exciting areas of anti-aging research today. It’s not surprising that its first application is in the field of Alzheimer’s as this is one of the most direct impacts of this buildup of proteins, specifically amyloids. It’s exciting, however, that new research into sigma receptor drugs indicates that they can activate autophagy. This not only has long-term impacts on aging, it also improves memory and cognition even in people with seemingly healthy brains as well.
GDF11 and Vampire Therapy
The issue also discusses the growth factor, GDF11, which is found in youthful blood at high levels. In various experiments in animals, aging has been reversed in older subjects via the administration of young blood rich with GDF11. Even small quantities of youthful blood given regularly produced noticeable regenerative effects in important areas of the brain such as the hippocampus. Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein actually predicted this anti-aging approach many decades ago, as I’ve previously written.
A better way to achieve this rejuvenative effect, however, would be to restore the GDF11-expressing cells you had as a young person. BioTime (BTX) has, in fact, patented and sells the stem cells that express GDF11 already. Unfortunately, you can’t yet get a transplant of youthful GDF11-producing stem cells, but that day will come.
A handful of nuts a day may be enough to reduce the risk for death from heart disease and other ills.
In a review combining data from 20 prospective studies, researchers found that compared with people who ate the least nuts, those who ate the most reduced the risk for coronary heart disease by 29 percent, for cardiovascular disease by 21 percent and for cancer by 15 percent.
There was also a 52 percent reduced risk for respiratory disease, 39 percent for diabetes and 75 percent reduced risk for infectious disease in those who ate the most nuts.
Most of the risk reduction was achieved by eating an average of about one ounce of nuts a day, the amount in about two dozen almonds or 15 pecan halves. There was little decrease in risk with greater consumption. The study is in BMC Medicine.
Scientists have discovered that resveratrol, a compound in the skin of red grapes and red wine, and metformin, a drug often prescribed to fight type 2 diabetes, have many of the neuroprotective benefits of a low-calorie diet and exercise.
In a study published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, scientists from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and colleagues show resveratrol preserves muscle fibers as we age and helps protect connections between neurons called synapses from the negative effects of aging.
The scientists also discovered that the diabetes drug metformin slowed the rate of muscle fiber aging, but it did not significantly affect aging of neuromuscular junctions. However, the drug may possibly protect synapses in different dosage amounts, Valdez said.