Boston researchers reverse aging in mice, study shows


There has been an exciting breakthrough in the science of aging. In a new study, Boston researchers say they have reversed aging in mice and that discovery could set the stage for similar results in humans.

Dr. David Sinclair has spent his entire career focused on aging and now believes he's discovered a way to stay younger for longer.

"We're absolutely talking about increasing the quality of life - preventing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's," Sinclair said.

It starts with a molecule called NAD which humans need to live. As we age, the level of NAD in our cells drops, leading to DNA damage and the diseases of aging.

In a new study in the journal CELL, Sinclair and his team at Harvard Medical School's Center for the Biology of Aging boosted NAD levels in the blood vessels of old mice.

"Now those blood vessels are young again. We get more blood vessels, more blood flow and the old mice, even the young mice, can run up to 50 percent, sometimes two times as far on a treadmill without getting tired," Sinclair said.

Sinclair says human trials of the NAD booster are underway in Boston and ultimately, he hopes for Food and Drug Administration approval of a pill everyone could take.

"Just a single pill that they take every morning and it rejuvenates their internal organs and their systems so that you don't just feel young, but you actually are young," Sinclair said.

A related option is available now. A dietary supplement, not regulated by the FDA, called Basis. It was developed by Elysium Health, a company co-founded by Dr. Leonard Guarente, director of the Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"We're talking about being able to stay healthy longer, so being able to do what you like to do," Guarente said.

Basis costs $60 for a one-month supply. Guarente says it contains two natural compounds known to boost NAD levels and in a human trial last year, it worked.

"Over the two months of the trial, NAD levels went up in people who were taking BASIS. They went up higher in the people taking the double dose of BASIS and they stayed elevated for the duration," Guarente said.

Guarente said the company is now eager to work with the FDA to develop human trials for specific diseases.

"If you can make cells healthier and have a treatment, a simple treatment that can make cells healthier, you're going to affect not just those cells, but the entire organ and therefore, the disease," Guarente said.

Though animal research findings may not be the same in humans, the doctors said the results so far are promising, meaning human NAD treatments could be on the horizon.