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Anti-Aging Pill: Super Gene Discovery Leads to Fruitless Attempts to Mimic Nature

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 by: Marek Doyle
Tags: anti-aging, discovery, health news

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(NewsTarget) Scientists continued their obsession with pill-based cures today as they announced a breakthrough in their ambitions to 'revolutionise.' They discovered three so-called `super-genes` that are linked to increased longevity and reduced risk of senility though their effect on insulin signaling. Whilst many will consider the research to simply document the importance of insulin sensitivity in aging, the researchers clearly feel that reducing dietary sugar is too radical. Instead, they hope to produce a drug to mimic the genetic benefits and aim to have the product ready for testing within three years.

Dr Nir Barzilai, the lead scientist, was upbeat about the discovery: "The advantage of finding a gene that involves longevity is we can develop a drug that will imitate what this gene is doing. If we can imitate that, then long life can be terrific."

Moral issues aside, the scientist`s enthusiasm is understandable, given the potential meaning of his work. However, upon analysis, the impact of this research seems very unlikely to change society in any meaningful way, even if a drug makes it to testing stage. The scientists went on to explain that they have identified three genes known to be present in Ashkenazi Jews residing in New York. Carriers of these genes have a 1 in 500 chance of making it to 100 - which is significantly higher than the odds of non-carriers making it a century, currently 1 in 10,000 - and they have a reduced propensity for developing high cholesterol, diabetes. The incidence rate of senility amongst carriers is also less. Whilst the newspaper reports were keen to point out the increased health seen in the Ashkenazi Jews studied, there was no discussion of the increased rates of specific diseases amongst this ethnic group.

Based on the research currently available, the increased longevity and resistance to chronic disease can be explained fully by the gene conferring improved insulin sensitivity upon the carrier. Impaired insulin signaling has been shown to increase systemic inflammation, cause mismanagement of lipids, and increase risk of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer`s.

Despite this potentially simple explanation and the resources likely to be invested in coming years into developing some sort of drug to mimic the gene, there currently are no plans to compare the biomarkers observed with a low sugar diet against those found in Ashkenazi Jews. Neither is there likely to be any research done on the relationship of these super-genes to the increased incidence of inherited disease amongst the Ashkenazi populations; conditions include Gaucher disease and cystic fibrosis. This selective study fits the Big Pharma research model, whereby the results of a team of keen scientists trigger massive spending on a complex, expensive and ultimately fruitless quest to mimic nature.

True to form, the charities were equally selective in their optimistic view of the news. On the discovery of the so-called supergene, Professor Judith Phillips said: "It`s a huge opportunity because the ageing population is growing anyway." The president of the British Society of Gerontology said the discovery would change how people look at growing old: "They would be a huge resource because people would be able to work longer and they would have to healthier life, and it would revolutionise the way we look at older people. And it would reduce costs in terms of care."

With these benefits in the offing, the multi-million pound costs to develop a drug suddenly seem less daunting to the pharmaceutical companies considering investment. Whether or not it comes to fruition is another question altogether, as is the logic in spending millions on developing a pill that can only mimic what sugar restriction has done for millennia.





About the author

Marek Doyle is a London personal trainer, nutritionist and the pioneer of the Combined Allergy Test, with locations serving Kensington, Chelsea, West London and Basingstoke. Marek runs Blueprint Fitness, edits theAdrenal Fatigue Focus website and has been recognised as one of the top three trainers in the country and counts world champion athletes, models and TV celebrities amongst his clientele.

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