New compound may slow down ageing: study

New compound may slow down ageing: study

Scientists have developed a synthetic compound that slows down ageing in mice, raising hopes for an anti-ageing drug in two to three years.

Researchers from Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia and Stockholm University in Sweden investigated the role of intracellular power-stations - mitochondria - in the process of ageing of organism.

Scientists made an attempt to slow down ageing using a novel compound - artificial antioxidant SkQ1 precisely targeted into mitochondria.

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.

This 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 (about 12 microgrammes) added into their drinking water.

According to scientists, the compound must protect animal cells from the toxic byproducts of mitochondria - free radicals (reactive oxygen species). 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.

"This work is quite valuable from both theoretical and practical points of view. First, it clearly demonstrates the key role of mitochondrially produced reactive oxygen species in the process of ageing of mammals," said Professor Vladimir Skulachev from Lomonosov Moscow State University.

"At the same time our study opens the way to the treatment of ageing with mitochondrially targeted antioxidants," said Skulachev.

The next pharmaceutical product in project's pipeline is an oral form of SkQ1. It is now in the process of clinical trials in Russia. In case of positive results of these trials, such "anti-ageing" drug can be approved for systemic indications in 2-3 years, researchers said.
The study was published in the journal Aging.

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