In a new study published in the journal , Harvard researchers claim to have discovered a new compound that can revive old cells in mice and make them act “young” again. The chemical, called NAD, is found naturally in mouse — and human — bodies, but is gradually depleted from cells as they age. By increasing the amount of NAD in tissue from a 2-year-old mouse, the scientists were actually able to “trick” the cells into acting like those from a 6-month-old animal, the equivalent of a 60-year-old human’s cells becoming like a 20-year-old’s.
It turns out that as mammals age, the levels of NAD drop by as much as 50%, disrupting communication between cells and their internal energy source, an organelle called the mitochondria. While it’s possible that large enough amounts of NAD could theoretically delay or turn back the clock on aging, it’s unlikely that it would be able to help cells become immortal.
Dr. David Sinclair, the lead author of the study, has stated very clearly that this is only a measure that could help people “buy more time,” rather than live indefinitely. Because this is a naturally-occuring chemical in the body, hopefully making it available as a supplement won’t have significant adverse effects.
The next step in his research is to find out exactly how much time this compound could potentially add to the average mouse’s life. He plans to add NAD to the drinking water of lab mice and see if it delays the onset of chronic diseases linked to aging, like cancer, diabetes, inflammation, loss of eyesight, and muscle wasting. If that experiment goes well, the next step would likely be to see if NAD has the same effects on human cells in the lab.