Throughout history, humans have tried everything from elixirs to dark magic to prolong their life. Obviously none have succeeded. We are at a very critical point in human history where immortality doesn’t seem that far-fetched, in fact, people are already thinking of how to make this inevitable future utopian rather than a dystopian world of immortal capitalists.
A prime example of this: the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, is a key investor on a 3 billion dollar anti-aging project called Altos Labs.
The Sinclair lab at Harvard medical school has cracked down on why we age and how to reverse the aging process. Their research focuses mainly on epigenomic aging which is one of the many reasons why we age. You can read more about why we age in our previous article
According to David Sinclair and The Sinclair Labs, the main cause of aging is the epigenetic changes due to change in methylation, histone and other chromatin factors which occurs in response to DNA damage. To test out this theory, they broke down the chromosomes in a mouse in a way not to cause mutations and result in tumor cells. Since this does not result in a information loss in DNA, cells just had to bundle back this DNA. Just like the theory said, these mouses were now older both in appearance and per the methylation pattern.
During their research they found that level of NAD+ declines with age. This coenzyme is essential ATP production, DNA repair, gene expression, and more. Thera are many Sirtuins (family of NAD+) that have ability to slow down aging and improve organ function. To increase these compounds artificially, we can use certain compounds called STACs (Sirtuin activating compounds) to trick the body and improve organ function.
The team at Sinclair labs, did just that using a STAC called NMN nicotinamide mononucleotide and they found that an older mouse was now more active than a young one. The older mouse actually outran the younger mouse on a treadmill.
While this is cool and super exciting, it is just improving the function of an organ. It is not really making the mouse younger but more active or slowing down the aging process.
Can we do better? Can we do more?
As I previously discussed about epigenome and methylation patterns and how they relates to aging; In theory, to reverse age, we just need to find a way to reach the previous patterns…
In 2012, Shinya Yamanaka received the Nobel Prize for discovering 4 different factors that can revert the cell back to pluripotent stem cells. This means that by using those factors, any cell can develop the ability to produce new cells of any type i.e. neurons, cones, germ layers cells etc. Long story short, Yamanaka has figured out how to transform a dying cell into a brand-new cell in an embryonic state.
Yamanaka’s team used this research on a mouse using only 3 of the youth restoring factors (Oct4, Sox2 and Klf4) and a virus as a delivering agent into a blind mice’s eye. The results were superb. The mouse was able to regain full vision. Moreover, the team now believes that this can be done on any tissue and restore it’s function or make it young again.
Even more promising the same technique has been tried since on many mice organs and to this day there have been no side effects. The next step is to apply it to a mouse’s whole body and figure out how many times the process can be repeated.