Photo: Courtesy of Paramount.
Another fountain of youth? Perhaps. Scientists at Harvard Medical School are potentially sitting on a windfall development in anti-aging research, achieving the near impossible: actual age reversal.
It all comes down to a compound called nicotinamide mono nucleotide (NMN). When tested on two-year-old mice, the scientists discovered that the compound restores their muscles to those of a six-month-old within a mere week. Calling the animals' upgraded physical condition "indistinguishable" from those of the six-month-old mice, the scientists also found that the compound improved their "muscle wastage, restored mitochondrial function and communication, and improved inflammation and insulin resistance." They add: "This result was like regenerating the muscles of a 60-year old human to those of a 20-year old." Woah.
Before you gleefully donate your living body to science (and they do hope to start human trials next year), one should realize that this finding could end up being...nothing. For one, mice and humans have entirely different metabolisms. Plus, the mice may have had artificially renewed muscles, but they still suffered from neurodegenerative decline and the shortening of telomeres — the tips of chromosomes that keep them from deteriorating. But, a partial aging reversal is still something, and if it ends up benefitting young, healthy people the way scientists hypothesize it could, it could be huge. Realistically, even if trials start next year and the NMN compound is determined safe for human usage, it will take much longer — over 20 years — before it becomes a viable therapy. By then, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button will be ironic vintage viewing. Feeling old yet? (io9)