Super Mice Teach Scientists the Secret to Aging

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Scientists learn the secret of ageing
Indo-Asian News Service / London, May 7, 2005
[img][/img] [img][/img]Scientists have managed to stave off the ageing process in mice, a discovery
that might pave the way to longer, healthier living in humans too.

Experiments at the US-based Washington University School of Medicine showed
that protecting the body of mice against highly reactive chemicals called
free radicals – long suspected as a cause of ageing – gave them longer
lives, reports the Scottish daily Scotsman.

Mice given higher levels of an enzyme that breaks down free radicals had
about a 20 percent increase in their average and maximum lifespan, about
four and a half months.

They also had healthier hearts than other mice.

The experiments suggest that people could live longer and be free from many
age-related diseases if they were protected from free radicals.

“This study is very supportive of the free radical theory of ageing. It
shows the significance of free radicals and of reactive oxygen species in
particular in the ageing process,” said lead researcher Peter Rabinovitch.

“People used to only focus on specific age-related diseases because it was
believed that the ageing process itself could not be affected. What
we’rerealising now is that by intervening in the underlying ageing process,
we may be able to produce very significant increases in ‘health-span’, or
healthy life-span.”

Rabinovitch and his colleagues studied the enzyme catalase, which helps
breakdown hydrogen peroxide – a waste product of the body’s metabolic
process – into water and oxygen.

Hydrogen peroxide can be a precursor of free radicals.

The damage they cause can, in turn, lead to further flaws in cells’ chemical
processes, which lead to more free radicals being produced.

Free radicals can create unnecessary chemical reactions, which damage
cells,including DNA. Some scientists believe they are major factors in heart
disease, cancer and other serious conditions.

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