Scientists slow down ageing of mice with novel compound

Moscow, Feb 18 (IANS) Raising hope for an anti-ageing drug in just two to three years, a group of Russian and Swedish scientists have managed to slow down ageing of mice with the use of a novel compound.

Development of typical traits of ageing was dramatically reduced in the group of mice treated with the compound – artificial antioxidant SkQ1, showed the results of the study published in the journal Aging.

This compound — that appears to work by protecting animal cells from the toxic byproducts of mitochondria, known as intracellular powerstations — was developed in the Moscow State University by Russian biologist Vladimir Skulachev.

“Our study opens the way to the treatment of ageing with mitochondrially targeted antioxidants,” Skulachev, a co-author of the study, said.

Experiments involved a special strain of genetically-modified mice created and characterised in Sweden.

A single mutation was introduced into genome of these mice resulting in the substantially accelerated mutagenesis in mitochondria which leads to accelerated ageing and early death of the mutant mice. They live less than one year (normal mouse lives more than two years).

The mutation promotes development of many age-related defects and diseases indicating that the major defect of these mice is indeed ageing.

Starting from the age of 100 days one group of mutant mice was treated with small doses of SkQ1 (approximately 12 micrograms) added into their drinking water.

Another group of animals served as a control group receiving pure water.

Differences between the two groups became obvious starting from the age 200-250 days.

Animals in the control group aged rapidly as expected. They were losing weight, their body temperature decreased, severe curvature of the spine (as a result of osteoporosis) and alopecia were developing, their skin became thinner, and in case of females estrus cycle was impaired.

Finally their mobility and oxygen consumption were decreased.

The development of all these typical traits of ageing was dramatically decelerated in the group treated with SkQ1.

Some of the ageing traits did not appear in that group at all, the study said.

This work “clearly demonstrates the key role of mitochondrially produced reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in the process of ageing of mammals”, Skulachev said.

An oral form of the compound is now in the process of clinical trials in Russia.

The researchers believe that in case of positive results of these trials, such “anti-ageing” drug can be approved for use in two to three years.

–IANS

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