Health

The ‘magic protein’ that could slow down aging

Updated

GDF11 is available on the pharmaceutical market in vials for IV injection for research use only, but there are already websites that offer the possibility of participating in a randomized study to demonstrate benefits and toxicity.

the 'prote

enjoy a long life but, above all, free from ailments It has become the golden dream of those who, beyond longevity, aspire to squeeze their years without (too many) physical and mental limitations.

In this race to discover the ‘pitch’ that, beyond adding decades, helps us to do so by slowing down the logic consequences of the passage of timeseveral laboratories have spent decades investigating the role that scientists such as Lee Rubin, professor of Regenerative Medicine at Harvard University (United States) and co-director of the Neuroscience Program at the Stem Cell Institute, has not hesitated to call the ‘magic protein’.

What is that ‘magic protein’ that could become the key to our (almost) eternal youth? The truth is that his nickname is much more poetic and revealing than his real name because it is called GDF11.

“The GDF11 protein belongs to the group of the ‘superfamily’ of the transforming growth factor betawhich regulates the expression of HOX genes, which are essential for the regulation of the identity of positional changes (anteroposterior) during the development and growth “, details Vicente Mera, head of the Unit of Genomic Medicine and Healthy Aging at SHA Wellness Clinic and Best European Doctor in the field of Antiaging Medicine at the European Awards of Medicine.

It is one of the, according to those who know about this, tens of thousands of proteins that the human body has, what makes it, then, different from the rest? It is true that, according to several investigations, could help us rejuvenate the brain and muscles (including the heart) in a much closer future than we think? Mera tries to explain it to us (and it is not an easy task): “In the classic experiments carried out, in the middle of the last century, by Clive McCay at Cornell University, it was first verified that the caloric restriction It was the only performance prolonged longevity and the youthful physical appearance of certain mice. Later it was possible to verify with a pioneering protocol called parabiosis (laboratory technique for studying physiology by combination of two living organismsin this case a young mouse with an old one, who are surgically united to develop a unique and shared physiological system) that, after a certain time, the most mature rejuvenated; but also that young people age prematurely“.

Thanks to, it must be said, this disturbing technique (which is so reminiscent of Dr. Frankenstein’s experiments, really), it was observed that “the brainespecially the hippocampus, and muscles -indeed, including the heart- were the organs that showed the most striking changes. And you are positive modifications They were not only anatomical, but also functional, as highlighted by memory tests.”

Mera relates that, more recently, at Stanford University, “they have been able to isolate and purify, at least, a protein responsible for what McCay called rejuvenation factors and that today correspond to the cytokines (small proteins that play a crucial role in the control, growth, and activity of other cells of the immune system and blood cells) from stem cells that pass from one side of the circulation to the other in the mice in parabiosis“.

As has been verified, continues Mera, “the GDF11 protein is isolated only in the blood of young mice. In mature mice, on the other hand, it has been seen that, with the passage of time, certain mechanisms are blocked -which would work again with the GDF11 protein- that prevent the stem cells from repairing the muscle”.

Yes, he emphasizes, “at inject the GDF11 protein into old mice have been obtained Similar improvements, but less intense to those achieved in experiments with parabiosis, which suggests that there are still more factors to be identified that block or stimulate stem cells”.

It is known that several laboratories have been working for decades on a formula that allows its commercialization, but what truth is there in all this? “The protein is commercially available in vials for IV injection for research use only; but there are already websites offering the chance to participate in a randomized study to demonstrate the benefits (and toxicity) of GDF11.”

To be able to participate in these projects, Dr. Mera warns, “it is necessary to ‘donate’ a medical amount of money that can reach up to $500,000. In such a way that a treatment protocol with GDF11 protein is still within the reach of very few”.

Conclusion? “It is clear, that sooner or later, they would end identifying more proteins responsible for aging and rejuvenation that, without toxicity, are capable of mimicking the effect of parabiosis and can be used to prevent, prolong longevity and improve quality of life, especially in patients with diseases such as Alzheimer’s”, concludes this doctor. Hopefully his omen will come true soon!

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