Aging is an inevitable (not so enjoyable) fact of life. Along with aging comes the natural wear and tear as well as the unavoidable aching and degeneration of body parts leading to conditions such as: joint arthritis, osteoarthritis and tendinitis. It might be early to announce that science has discovered a new fountain of youth; however, a key milestone in the human quest to escape aging may have been reached.
According to a recent new study in the journal Science, a vitamin called nicotinamide riboside (NR) has the capacity to stimulate the regeneration of lost muscle tissue in elderly mice, while also increasing their lifespan. This is significant news in the study of human aging.
Speaking about this apparent breakthrough, lead researcher Johan Auwerx explained that “this work could have very important implications in the field of regenerative medicine,” adding that it may one day be possible to bypass surgery and repair the body with a dietary supplement.
As humans age, we constantly lose our cells through a process called senescence, also known as cell death. As part of our human nature, our ability to regenerate slowly decreases over time, resulting in the breakdown of our cells, increasing chronic pain, and our ultimate demise.
Scientists interested in overcoming the finiteness of human life are therefore forever looking for ways to kick-start this process once it begins to slow down, and an international group of researchers may have now solved at least one piece of the puzzle.
According to the Auwerx, the key appears to lie in our mitochondria. Often referred to as the “powerhouse” of our cells, these small organelles generate the energy required for a wide variety of cellular processes. The development of stem cells into specialized cells, for instance, relies on energy produced by mitochondria.
After receiving NR, mice in the study were able to generate larger numbers of muscular stem cells, which later developed into adult muscle cells and translated into enhanced muscular strength and function. For instance, they were soon able to run for longer periods and developed a firmer grip. The implications of this are enormous, it is possible that with the ability to produce more adult muscle cells comes a decrease in the pain caused by weakness from degenerative cell changes.
While more research is needed to see how this treatment will effectively help aging humans, the progress is exciting. There may be promise for helping adults suffering from chronic pain due to degenerative diseases.
(Article Source: IFL Science – Health & Medicine)
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