Saturday, 12 January 2008
Can ageing be stopped?
January 12, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 11: Human life can be prolonged to a reasonable extent by preventing damage to genes and death can be predicted based on a person's "frailty index".
According to Prof Suresh Rattan and Prof K Subba Rao, experts on ageing and brain, the process of ageing and damage to neurons in the brain could be slowed down using genetic techniques. Once the damage to DNA is controlled, the process of ageing slows down, prolonging the life of an individual.
Participating in a meeting at University of Hyderabad here on Friday, Prof Rattan of the University of Aarhus, Denmark, and Prof Subba Rao of the UoH, said the genetic built up of an individual organism makes it to live for a certain period of time. The period varies between a few hours to a few hundred years. In case of human beings the average life span can be expected to be 100 years.
"The present average life span in India is 67 years. It was just 27 years before Independence. The average life span has gone up by 40 years. We can further increase the life span within the magical figure of 100 years or so," they said.
They said based on the "frailty index" of an individual, one could predict how near he or she is to death. Frailty index is developed based on certain health parameters like health status of a person and the diseases he or she has suffered from in the past.
The scientists said the process of ageing had been successfully slowed down in small animals like Drosophila and Ames dwarf mice and it could also be employed on human beings. At present the only method known to scientists to slow down the process of ageing is through calorie restriction.
Tissue rejuvenation with stem cells and organ replacement with artificial organs, coupled with molecular repair will improve the quality of life and bring down the process of ageing. It will also give a youthful glow to the individual.
Presently, the Advanced Centre for Ageing and Brain attached to the School of Life Sciences of University of Hyderabad is conducting research on brain ageing and how to reverse the process by reducing damage to DNA.
Studies by Suresh Rattan have shown that repeated mild heat stress has anti-ageing effect on growth and various other cellular and biochemical characteristics of normal human skin fibroblasts (a special type of cell) undergoing ageing in vitro. The process was also tested in combination with certain molecules like curcumin (turmeric) on ageing and longevity of human cells in laboratory.
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