dr Miriam Stoppard reports on a discovery that could help us understand the aging process and how key proteins could help us live longer, healthier lives
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For years I have followed aging research trying to slow down the process. Are we any closer to what could be the holy grail of medicine?
Studies from Edinburgh University examining which proteins might be influencing our aging suggest we might be.
In the largest genetic study of aging, scientists have uncovered two blood proteins that affect how long and healthy we will live.
Their goal is to develop drugs that target these proteins to slow down the entire process.
Beginning in adulthood, our bodies are in an inevitable state of decline, leading to age-related diseases and eventual death.
The rate at which we age and die depends on genetics, lifestyle, environment and chance. This study reveals the role that proteins (genetics) play in this process.
Our levels of these are determined by the DNA we inherit from our parents, and they in turn affect our health.
Scientists combined the results of six large genetic studies on aging – totaling hundreds of thousands of people. They examined 857 proteins and identified two that had strong negative effects on aging.
For example, people who inherited DNA that causes elevated levels of these proteins were more frail, had poorer self-reported health, and were less likely to live exceptionally long lives than those who didn’t.
So what do these proteins do? The first, LPA, is made in the liver and is thought to play a role in blood clotting.
High LPA levels can increase the risk of hardening of the arteries, which leads to heart disease and stroke.
The second protein, VCAM1, is found on the lining of blood vessels and controls their expansion and contraction in blood clotting and the immune response.
VCAM1 levels increase when we have an infection and this boosts the immune system.
The researchers say that with drugs that lower LPA and VCAM1 levels, we could improve the quality and length of our lives.
There is already a clinical trial testing a drug that lowers LPA to reduce the risk of heart disease, and VCAM1 improved cognition of aging in early animal studies.
“Identifying these two key proteins could help extend healthy years of life,” says Dr. Paul Timmers, Principal Investigator at the MRC Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh.
“Drugs that lower these protein levels in our blood could allow the average person to live as healthy and as long as people who won the genetic lottery and are born with genetically low levels of LPA and VCAM1.”
Beautiful new world!
https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/there-two-blood-proteins-could-26512987 "There are two blood proteins that may hold the key to a long, healthy life" - Miriam Stoppard