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A Common Molecule May Extend Life

Researchers report success with trying to replicate it in mice and humans

A woman holds a transparent yellow gel pill

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Researchers found that when mice were injected with the compound, they looked and acted younger.

A molecule that exists in all living cells may hold the key to longer life, a group of researchers at Harvard Medical School believes. They’re trying to replicate it and report success in limited trials.

Called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD+, the molecule helps to regulate cellular aging. As a person gets older, NAD+ levels decrease.

But when mice were injected a compound designed to generate extra NAD+, they looked and acted younger, according to Time. Humans are now being tested.

In a story in this week’s issue of Time magazine, the Harvard researchers discussed their findings.

“NAD+ is the closest we’ve gotten to a fountain of youth,” David Sinclair, co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging, told Time.  “It’s one of the most important molecules for life to exist.”

In a study published in Science in March 2017, the Harvard researchers reported that the DNA damage in mice caused by aging and a decline in NAD+ can be “rapidly reversed by restoring the abundance of NAD+” via the compound.

For humans, in a control trial, a separate research group reported in the November 2017 issue of Nature that those taking a daily supplement of the compound increased their NAD+ levels – by 40 percent or more -- over  one- and two-month periods.

Sinclair reported that he and his father both now take the supplement.

“He’s 78, and used to act like Eeyore,” Sinclair told Time. “Now he’s going on six-day hikes and traveling around the world.”

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