Getting older is just part of life, but part of getting older is being more vulnerable to certain diseases. And, unfortunately, the more vulnerable you are to age-related conditions, the lower your quality of life can be.
One of these age-related diseases that can lower your quality of life is known as Werner Syndrome. As a matter of fact, patients who have been diagnosed with Werner Syndrome tend to show early signs of aging, which includes the graying of hair, the wrinkling of skin, and increased incidence of diabetes (type-2) and cancer.
On average, patients diagnosed with Werner Syndrome will die around the age of 45. Unfortunately, we do not know much about the condition, particularly its mechanisms, and that means it is difficult to treat.
But if we can get better at identifying it, we may be able to better treat it. And fortunately a new study suggests we may be able to combat Werner Syndrome with a combination of supplements and a drug called NAD+.
Lead study author and University of Copenhagen Professor Vilhelm Bohr explains, “We are showing for the first time that Werner Syndrome is due to errors in the clean-up process. When we improve the clean-up by giving supplements of the drug NAD+, we can show in animal models that it increases lifespan and delays the aging processes.”
A member of the Center for Healthy Aging and the National Institute of Health, Bohr describes this clean-up process is called mitophagy. Basically, mitophagy breaks down defective mitochondria, which are the body’s energy factory—and then reuses these proteins.
Bohr goes on to say, “It strongly reinforces our findings that the clean-up process seems to be important in both human cells and across different animals. And then it is encouraging that in living animals, we can improve lifespan and delay the aging processes which are the key symptoms of Werner Syndrome.”
Now, it is important to note that Werner Syndrome is most common to people who live in Japan. In Japan the condition affects, on average, about 1 in 30,000 people. In the United States, on the other hand, the condition only affects about 1 in 200,000 people. It is also important to remind that these tests have only shown success in animal models; at least, for now.
At the end of the day Bohr comments, “Our results are so promising that we have received inquires from Japan with a view to performing clinical studies of patients with Werner Syndrome. We very much hope that the studies will point in the same direction so that patients can live longer and with a higher quality of life.”
The results of this study have been published in the journal Nature Communications.