Days ago, the research project funded by Rudolph II was finally completed. Well, maybe, if we believe the optimistic reports.
Anti-ageing compound set for human trials after turning clock back for mice (The Guardian)The article by Ana Gomes and sixteen co-authors from Harvard and New South Wales just appeared in Cell, an expert journal.
Declining NAD+ Induces a Pseudohypoxic State Disrupting Nuclear-Mitochondrial Communication during Aging (technical article)
The short story says that aging "is" nothing else than the loss of the communication between the cells' nuclei and the mitochondria, the cellular power plants. And the main reason behind this loss of communication is the decrease of the concentration of NAD+, the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide.
The recipe to get younger is therefore simple: you just inject nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or the elixir of youth for short, into your body and you will become young again.
So far, the researchers have demonstrated the elixir of youth using mice. In 2014, they will start the experiments with the people. Sounds great and straightforward. But I smell a rat or at least a mouse.
Could some biologists offer their informed opinions? Are similar stories in disciplines in which I am not trained as misleading as stories about the debunking of the uncertainty principle and tons of other "cool things" we routinely read in the media? And if they are, are there at least some folks who can see through it?
If thousands of most celebrated philosophers were thinking for thousands of years, they would probably not propose that a crazy molecule like that is the elixir of youth.
I am not saying that the claims are impossible. In fact, I do believe that they may be possible and I hope that they are. But if aging could be reversed in this simple way, why wouldn't Nature do such things naturally? It seems that organisms can synthesize the molecule rather easily – so why aren't they doing it? Maybe the change of the DNA from the parents to the offspring is so beneficial for the survival of a species that longevity is discouraged in the process of natural selection?