The researchers demonstrated that activating SIRT1 and injecting resveratrol, which have both been previously associated with life-span extension in lower organisms, can also prevent cognitive problems in the mice.
The mice used in the study develop an approximation of human neurodegenerative disease over a period of weeks. As neurons in their brains die and lose connections, their spatial learning is impaired, and the mice develop difficulty associating cause and effect. Treatment with resveratrol reduced the death and degeneration of neurons in these mice and also restored their learning abilities to a level comparable to that of normal mice not suffering neurodegeneration.
Tsai says this improvement in function suggests that resveratrol has potential for treating human neurodegenerative diseases.
Tsai is a scientific advisor to Sirtris. The study is the first to suggest that resveratrol could actually improve cognitive function in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. Guarente says the study suggests that compounds that can activate SIRT1 could be used to treat neurodegenerative disease in humans as long as they can pass through the blood-brain barrier.
This membrane surrounding and protecting the brain from chemicals in the blood presents a major challenge to any researcher developing drugs that target the brain. Mice in the study received injections of resveratrol directly into blood vessels in their brains, which would not be practical in human patients.
Previous studies have shown that resveratrol extends life span in yeast, roundworms, fruit flies, and fish. This gene is one of a family of genes called sirtuins that many researchers believe are master regulators of the aging process. By activating sirtuins, Sinclair, Guarente, and other researchers aim not to extend human life but to create new therapies for the diseases of aging. Be the leader your company needs.
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