CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – It’s tough to find anyone who doesn’t have at least a few complaints about getting older.
“Getting out of bed, it sounds like a rock band, ‘crack, snap, crackle,” explained Sean McGoff of Quincy while he was walking his dog this week on Castle Island.
The man who just might have the answer Sean’s complaints is Professor David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School. He and his team have discovered a molecule that has proven to reverse aging in mice.
“They drink it and we see that within a week they start to run farther,” he explained. “And then we look at their organs and those are rejuvenated as well.”
It’s all about DNA. Young people in their 20’s and 30’s have no problem briskly running, climbing, and jumping. But as we age, those activities get much more difficult. According to Sinclair it’s because the DNA in those younger people has not yet been damaged by the aging process. That is the key to his research.
“When we are young there is a protein that works well to repair our DNA,” he said.
“But as we get older another protein comes in and stops that from happening. What we’ve discovered is there’s a molecule that can get between them and pop them apart so this youthful protein can do it’s action again.”
If approved, this is not something you’ll find on drug store shelves. It will be prescribed to treat and prevent age-related diseases. “It won’t just help your diabetes, as a side effect it will prevent cancer and it will improve your memory and you will have more energy as well,” Sinclair said.
But not everyone is crazy about the idea of scientists reversing nature. “We have to have an end to life,” one woman told us. “You get to a certain age and you’ve got ten million things wrong with you; don’t keep me alive,” she said.
But Sinclair said this is actually about improving quality of life as we get older. “What we are talking about here is not keeping people in nursing homes for longer, but keeping them out of nursing homes and allowing people in their 80s and 90s to play tennis and hang out with their grandchildren,” he said.
Sean McGoff is ready to try it. “Cuz I’m almost 50 and 30 would be nice again,” he said.
Safety studies are expected to begin in the next couple of weeks. But don’t look for this to get rid of wrinkles or grey hair. According to Sinclair, fixing the inside is much easier than changing the outside.