‘The development of a synthetic compound called SkQ1 molecule may slow down aging.’
The research team tried to slow down aging by using a novel compound called artificial antioxidant SkQ1 which accurately targeted the mitochondria. This compound was developed by the Russian biologist professor Vladimir Skulachev and was developed at the Moscow State University.
A special strain of genetically-modified mice which was developed in Sweden were used for experiments. A single mutation, when introduced in the mice genome may lead to accelerated mutagenesis (a technique which leads to the changes in the genetic information or mutation) in the mitochondria. This process may lead to the early death of the mutant mice and may live less than 1 year.
A number of age-related defects and disease may show that the major defect of the mice is aging.
One group of mutant mice was treated with small doses of SkQ1 by adding to its drinking water, from the age of 100 days. The scientists believed that the compounds present in the drinking water might protect the animal cells from the toxic byproduct of mitochondria, free radicals. The control group of mice received only pure water.
The differences between both the groups at 200-250 days were studied. The control group animals were found to age rapidly, with weight loss, a decreased temperature and curvature of the spine. The animals had hair loss, and the skin was becoming thinner, and in some cases the female estrus cycle was impaired. The oxygen consumption and mobility were decreased.
These typical traits of aging were reduced in the animal group treated with the SkQ1 molecule.
Professor Vladimir Skulachev, the creator of SkQ1 molecule design and co-author of this study, said, "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 aging of mammals. At the same time our study opens the way to the treatment of aging with mitochondrially targeted antioxidants. We are also very honored to cooperate within this project with such prominent Swedish scientists as prof. Barbara Cannon who has such title as the President of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in her CV and prof. Jan Nedergaard, Head of Wenner-Gren Institute".
A set of pharmaceuticals is being developed based on SkQ1 molecule. The first drug Visomitin eye drops is approved and marketed in Russia and also passed phase 2 clinical trials in the US. Another new product which is an oral form of SkQ1 is now in the process of clinical trials. Anti-aging drugs can be approved for 2-3 years.
Interesting Facts on Aging
- The number of people who are aged 60 years and above may rise from 900 million to 2 billion between 2015 and 2050.
- Noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke and lung disease are the most common health condition in old age.
- Discriminating a person by their age may have serious consequence for older people.
- Irina G. Shabalina et al, Improved health-span and lifespan in mtDNA mutator mice treated with the mitochondrially targeted antioxidant SkQ1, Aging (2017). DOI: 10.18632/aging.101174
- 10 facts on ageing and health - (http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/ageing/en/)