Researchers find mitochondria could delay aging

A recent study has revealed that mitochondria could be used to combat a universal health issue - aging.

Some in the scientific community are already pushing to have aging classified as a disease worthy of treatment rather than a time of life, and recent findings from a study carried out by Lomonosov Moscow State University and Stockholm University could possibly support this movement. The study examined the role that mitochondria plays in the aging of organisms by treating three groups of mice. The findings, published in Aging, showed the mice that received an artificial antioxidant called SkQ1 aged at a slower rate than those who did not.

About the SkQ1 antioxidant

Russian Professor Vladimir Skulachev created the molecule SkQ1, which contains antioxidants in the cell’s mitochondria.

Experiments were carried out on three groups of mice - one that had been genetically modified with mutations to age at an accelerated rate from birth, one that received just small dose of the antioxidant SkQ1 though drinking water, and one that only received pure drinking water with no SkQ1 or mutations. The mice with mitochondrial mutagenesis (mutations) aged at an accelerated rate, dying at around one year of age - a full year below normal life expectancy. Mice in the control group that received just plain drinking water aged as predicted, but the mice that received the antioxidant showed significantly slowed signs of aging. In fact, some in the group did not exhibit any common signs of aging in mice, such as decreased body weight and lowered body temperature.

“(The experiment) clearly demonstrates the key role of mitochondrially produced reactive oxygen species in the processing of aging of mammals,” said Professor Skulachev. “At the same time our study opens the way to the treatment of aging with mitochondrially targeted antioxidants.” As such, Professor Skulachev and his team are already working on potential drugs containing or based on SkQ1, one of which has already been approved for patient treatment in Russia. The eye drop Visomitin can be used to treat age-related ailments such as cataracts, and is currently undergoing clinical trails in the US.

The Swedish-Russian study is one of many going on around the world as researchers strive to find answers to the aging process. Some researchers are studying the ramifications of cellular senescence, while others such as Celixir are continuing research efforts in the stem cell technology field.