Antioxidant therapy greatly extends nematode lifespans

from the eat-right,-live-well-(and-long) dept.

Two press releases on joint research by the Buck Center for Research in Aging and Emory University describe "using drugs that help eliminate oxygen radicals — the toxic byproducts of metabolism — scientists have extended the normal lifespan of the nematode worm C. elegans by approximately 50 percent. In addition, the scientists restored a normal lifespan to mutant worms that had a mitochondrial defect causing increased oxygen radical production and rapid aging."

The drugs used in the study were actually modified versions of naturally-occurring antioxidant enzymes. The findings were reported in the 1 September 2000 issue of the jouranl Science.

According to the press releases, "the drugs used in the experiments are synthetic forms of superoxide dismutase and catalase — enzymes that naturally help control oxidative stress. Although they have an anti-oxidant effect, the compounds are much more powerful than simple anti-oxidants such as vitamin E, which eliminate individual oxygen radical molecules one-on-one and quickly lose their effectiveness. The new synthetic compounds are catalytic drugs that convert oxygen radicals to water, then reconstitute themselves in a cogwheel-like process that continues to destroy additional oxygen radicals as long as the drugs remain in the body."

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