Imagine if we could turn back time. A team that has identified a new way in which cells age has also reversed the process in old mice whose bodies appear younger in several ways. The discovery has implications for understanding age-related diseases including cancers, neurodegenerative disorders and diabetes.
The research team discovered a key mechanism that keeps the body’s cells communicating. In youth, communication inside individual cells – between the cell’s “battery” known as the mitochondrion and the nucleus – is fast and frequent. But over time, this slows and ageing accelerates.
To improve communication inside cells, researchers gave mice injections containing the naturally occurring compound NMN, which raises the levels of a molecule called NAD. This molecule repairs the cells’ communication network.
The treatment effectively transformed a 60-year-old mouse into a 20-year-old on some measures, including the degree of muscle wastage, insulin resistance and inflammation.