This week on Lifespan News, Brent Nally discusses the effectiveness of NMN on prediabetic patients, the accomplishments of BioAge in 2021, an FDA-approved drug as a treatment for dry AMD, a negligibly senescent fish, and how the Chinese practice of qigong attenuates age-related cognitive decline.
In this video, you’ll find out how NMN improved muscle glucose metabolism in a human trial; what new drug is a candidate for dry AMD treatment; fish that don’t appear to age; and potential benefits of an ancient Chinese exercise or practice, called qigong. We’ll have these stories in this episode of Lifespan News.
Welcome to Lifespan News on X10, your source for longevity science updates. I’m your host, Brent Nally. We encourage you to check the description below for links to these stories.
Continuing with our first story, a new clinical trial suggests NMN supplementation may have benefits in humans. In recent years, there’s been considerable interest in the naturally occurring molecule and dietary supplement nicotinamide mononucleotide, or NMN, and NMN’s potential influence on aging. While there have been numerous animal studies suggesting that NMN may be useful in combating some age-related decline, there’s been a lack of human data until now. NMN is a precursor of the coenzyme NAD+ which is a crucial chemical employed by our cells in a variety of functions. NAD+ notoriously declines with age, and it’s thought that administering NMN may help counteract this decline, as more NMN might mean more NAD+ can be produced in the body. Rodent studies have shown benefits, but the picture is much less clear in humans. The new trial, though, shed some light on this issue. The trial had a total of 25 participants, all post-menopausal women with prediabetes who were either overweight or obese. Thirteen of the women were given 250 milligrams of NMN every day for 10 weeks, whereas the rest of the women were given a placebo. According to the scientists, NMN administration increased insulin-stimulated glucose disposal, which is typically impaired in prediabetic people, and upregulated the expression of genes related to muscle remodeling among other benefits. While this was a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind clinical trial, the researchers urge caution as this was a rather small trial, and larger studies will be needed before we can claim with certainty what benefits NMN supplementation may have in humans.
For our next story, BioAge Labs is off to a fast start in 2021, with two drugs in its pipeline now undergoing clinical trials and a third planned to start in the near future. BioAge focuses on broad anti-aging pathways to target specific age-related diseases. After launching a phase-2a trial for unexplained anemia of aging back in March of 2021, BioAge launched another phase-2 trial, this time for COVID-19 in people over age 60. Earlier in April 2021, BioAge announced a licensing agreement for a drug called BGE-105 with Amgen, one of the world’s largest independent biotechnology companies. BGE-105 is similar to a naturally occurring compound that promotes muscle formation, promotes autophagy, and decreases inflammation in aged mice. Hopefully, BioAge will be able to start their trial of BGE-105 in the first quarter of 2022. It’s important to remember that, unfortunately, most human trials end up failing, but that’s just the way research goes, and we wish BioAge best of luck.
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FDA-Approved drug is a candidate for dry AMD treatment. New research suggests that improving autophagy through flubendazole may be useful in treating dry age-related macular degeneration, or dry AMD, which is a disease of aging that causes vision loss. It’s due to the accumulation of a toxic substance called lipofuscin within cells of the retina of the eye. These cells can generally dispose of lipofuscin through autophagy which is a recycling process also employed to break down unwanted parts of the cells itself, but in the case of dry AMD, they aren’t able to dispose of enough lipofuscin. One possible way to boost autophagy and thus dispose of lipofuscin would be by inhibiting the mTOR pathway, but in this case, researchers wanted to avoid that because the mTOR pathway is heavily involved in the cellular process of the retina, and messing with mTOR could cause unwanted side effects. For this reason, the researchers sought compounds that would promote autophagy through other biochemical pathways. One of the investigated compounds, flubendazole, improved cell health as measured by tight junctions, reduced lipofuscin-like material, reduced senescence associated with lipofuscin-like material, and led to more compaction of the granules of this material, thus reducing their reactivity. For these reasons, the researchers suggest flubendazole might be a candidate drug from dry AMD. However, the researchers used a mouse model, and the difference between dry AMD in mice and humans is such that these results might not hold up in humans. To know for a fact, human clinical trials will be necessary.
Moving on, bigmouth buffalo fish probably don’t need NMN or any supplementation because scientists suggest they don’t seem to age biologically. In an open-access paper published on Nature, scientists suggest that a fish called bigmouth buffalo may be a negligibly senescent species. Negligible senescence is a rare trait of a handful of species, such as hydra, which essentially means these species don’t seem to age biologically. Negligibly senescent animals don’t seem to experience significant physiological decline with time, nor higher mortality rates or reduced reproductive capability. According to the new study, the bigmouth buffalo might be one of these lucky animals. In the study, scientists sampled 240 fish ranging in age from 2 to an astounding 102 years old. Their analyses revealed that several physiological measures may improve, rather than decline, as these fish age. Older fish were found to have better immune function than younger ones, no signs of telomere shortening, and lower levels of chronic stress. The scientists warn that the study wasn’t longitudinal—that is, the sampled data wasn’t taken at different points in time from the same population—and while this may have obfuscated age-related changes within individuals, the researchers have reasons to believe their results will hold up. Studies like this can help scientists better understand the variability observed in the rate of aging in different species, which may help them better understand aging in humans too. The paper is free for everyone to read, and you’ll find it in the description below.
For our final story, qigong attenuates age-related cognitive decline in a trial. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Hong Kong have found that an ancient Chinese practice, called qigong, improves cognitive abilities, lowers inflammation, and increases the size of the hippocampus in elderly subjects. Qigong is a traditional Chinese practice that combines many aspects of meditation with mild exercise. While similar practices have traditionally been disregarded by western medicine, in recent years many studies have focussed on the benefits of meditation and similar practices. In this study, the researchers followed two groups of about 25 people each for two weeks. The “treatment” group attended qigong sessions, whereas the control group had simple stretching in similar amounts. Both before and after these sessions, different parameters were measured, such as information processing speed, sustained attention, and hippocampal volume. Levels of interleukin-6, or IL-6, were also measured; high levels of IL-6 in circulation have been shown to impair processing speed performance. According to the authors, the qigong group saw a statistically significant increase in information processing speed, sustained attention, and their hippocampi became larger—which is good, as hippocampal shrinkage has been associated with cognitive decline. IL-6 levels also dropped, and none of these effects were seen in the control group. The sample size of this study was small, and as always, more research will be needed to know if these results hold more generally, but a little meditation and a bit of extra exercise probably won’t hurt.
That’s all the news for this video. Before you go, there’s a few quick, free and simple things that you can do to help us solve the human aging problem. First, make sure to like this video and make sure that you’re subscribed with the bell turned to “All Notifications”. Then, please share this video on your social media. This helps inform more people about the importance of healthy human life extension science. Is there a recent life extension story that we haven’t covered yet that you think we should have? And what was your favorite story from this video? Let us know what you think in the comments below. We really appreciate it and we look forward to seeing you in the next video at least as healthy as you are now.