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Health & Fitness

Keep Firm Muscle Tone with the Age

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Scientists have found and manipulated body chemistry linked to the aging of muscles, and were able to restore the ability of old human muscle to repair and rebuild itself.
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Importantly, the research also found evidence that aging muscles need to be kept in shape, because long periods of atrophy are more challenging to overcome. Older muscles do not respond as well to sudden bouts of exercise. And rather than building muscle, older people can instead generate scar tissue if they exercise after long periods of inactivity.

Previous studies have shown that adult muscle stem cells have a receptor called Notch, which triggers growth when activated. An enzyme called mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) regulates Notch activity.

In the lab, the researchers cultured old human muscle and forced the activation of MAPK. The regenerative ability of the old muscle was significantly enhanced.

Resources:
Live Science September 30, 2009
EMBO Molecular Medicine September 30, 2009 [Epub ahead of Print]

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Featured

Could Drinking Heavy Atoms Lengthen Your Life?

In a back room of New Scientist‘s offices in London, I sit down at a table with the Russian biochemist Mikhail Shchepinov. In front of us are two teaspoons and a brown glass bottle. Shchepinov opens the bottle, pours out a teaspoon of clear liquid and drinks it down. He smiles. It’s my turn.

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A sip a day of heavy water could reduce damage to ageing tissue that is caused by oxygen free radicals (Image: John Sann/Stone/Getty)
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I put a spoonful of the liquid in my mouth and swallow. It tastes slightly sweet, which is a surprise. I was expecting it to be exactly like water since that, in fact, is what it is – heavy water to be precise, chemical formula D2O. The D stands for deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen with an atomic mass of 2 instead of 1. Deuterium is what puts the heavy in heavy water. An ice cube made out of it would sink in normal water.

My sip of heavy water is the culmination of a long journey trying to get to the bottom of a remarkable claim that Shchepinov first made around 18 months ago. He believes he has discovered an elixir of youth, a way to drink (or more likely eat) your way to a longer life.

Many anti-aging medications are based on supplementing your body’s own defenses with antioxidant compounds such as vitamin C and beta-carotene, though there is scant evidence that this does any good.

Shchepinov realized there was another way to defeat free radicals. While he was familiarizing himself with research on aging, his day job involved a well-established – if slightly obscure – bit of chemistry called the isotope effect. On Christmas day 2006, it dawned on him that putting the two together could lead to a new way of postponing the ravages of time.

The basic concept of the isotope effect is that the presence of heavy isotopes in a molecule can slow down its chemical reactions.

All of this is conventional chemistry: the isotope effect was discovered back in the 1930s and its mechanism explained in the 1940s. The effect has a long pedigree as a research tool in basic chemistry for probing the mechanisms of complex reactions.

Shchepinov, however, is the first researcher to link the effect with aging. It dawned on him that if aging is caused by free radicals trashing covalent bonds, and if those same bonds can be strengthened using the isotope effect, why not use it to make vulnerable biomolecules more resistant to attack? All you would have to do is judiciously place deuterium or carbon-13 in the bonds that are most vulnerable to attack, and chemistry should take care of the rest.

Sources:
*New Scientist November 27, 2008
*Rejuvenation Research March 1, 2007; 10(1): 47-60

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Old Diarrhea Drug, an Anti-Aging Cure

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An 80-year old drug once used to treat diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disorders, may help slow down the aging process, say researchers.

Recent animal studies have shown that the drug, clioquinol, can reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson‘s and Huntington’s diseases.

However, scientists had a variety of theories to attempt to explain how a single compound could have such similar effects on three unrelated neurodegenerative disorders.

Now, researchers at McGill University have discovered that clioquinol acts directly on an aging gene called, CLK1, often informally called ‘clock-1.’

Clioquinol is a very powerful inhibitor of clock-1,” said Dr. Siegfried Hekimi, McGill’s Strathcona Chair of Zoology and Robert Archibald & Catherine Louise Campbell Chair in Developmental Biology.

“Because clock-1 affects longevity in invertebrates and mice, and because we’re talking about three age-dependent neurodegenerative diseases, we hypothesize that clioquinol affects them by slowing down the rate of aging,” Hekimi added.

Hekimi said that the exact mechanism of how clioquinol inhibits CLK-1 is till under investigation.
“One possibility is that metals are involved as clioquinol is a metal chelator,” he said.

Chelation is a type of binding to metal ions and is often used to treat heavy metal poisoning.
Hekimi said he is optimistic but cautious when asked whether clioquinol could eventually become an anti-aging treatment.

“The drug affects a gene which when inhibited can slow down aging. The implication is that we can change the rate of aging. This might be why clioquinol is able to work on this diversity of diseases that are all age-dependent,” he added.

The advance online edition of the study was published in Oct. 2008 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

You may click to see:->Age Management with Medicines
Sources: The Times Of India

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News on Health & Science

What Causes Your Eyelids to Sag?

Blinking eye
Image via Wikipedia

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Numerous theories have been proposed seeking to explain what causes the baggy lower eyelids that come with aging. Now, researchers have determined that fat expansion in the eye socket is the primary culprit.

The study is the first to examine the anatomy of multiple subjects to determine what happens to the lower eyelid with age. It is also the first face-aging study that uses high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The study looked at MRIs of 40 subjects (17 males and 23 females) between the ages of 12 and 80. The findings showed that the lower eyelid tissue increased with age, and that the largest contributor to this size increase was fat increase.

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