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Dr. Bruce Ames' Research On Aging

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In order to understand Dr. Bruce Ames' research on aging, one must first understand one of the major contributing factors to the effects caused by aging. Oxygen is naturally a fairly unstable (electron-wise) element which corrodes many materials. Ironically, our bodies are also dependent upon this corrosive element in order to survive. But our bodies are not immune to the corrosive effects of oxygen.Everything our bodies depend on, from RNA, DNA, lipids, and proteins, are corroded by oxygen. This is one of the primary reasons why our bodies age and succumb to the degenerative diseases that aging causes.

So the primary question when attempting to reverse or slow the process of aging deals with attempting to correct the damage that is caused by the oxidation of the primary components of our bodies. Most importantly, the mitochondria within our bodies (the organelles which produce energy for our cells, and as a result, for our body) are the focus point for slowing the process of aging. Dr. Bruce Ames' research on aging has attempted to find methods that work in this regard. In studies performed on old rats, it was found that by using lipoic acid (LA) and acetyl carnitine (ALC), which are normal mitochondrial metabolites, in large doses for a period of time, the majority of the damage that is caused by oxidation is able to be reversed.

What does this mean overall? Because of the increased function of the mitochondria in the cells, many bodily functions begin to regain their youthful functionality. Cognition, heart function, even immune function begin to regain their youthful vitality through the introduction of these metabolites in concentrated doses. But how does this work?

Many studies by Dr. Bruce Ames has been done on these metabolites in an attempt to determine their exact methods of function. It has been found that lipoic acid, once it is in the mitochondria, is reduced to a very strong antioxidant known as dihydrolipoic acid. Not only is lipoic acid converted into a major antioxidant, but it also is an inducer of many types of phase-2 antioxidant enzymes. This includes many of the enzymes that are needed for the synthesis of glutathione, a potent antioxidant which is used to protect cells from peroxides and free radicals.

Not only are oxidants found in the environment, but when an individual does not receive the adequate intake of minerals and vitamins, DNA damage can be caused, as well as the release of oxidants into the body. For instance, if human cells do not receive an adequate amount of zinc, they begin releasing oxidants. Not only does this cause oxidation related damage to the DNA, but it also deactivates many zinc related enzymes that are involved in the process of repairing DNA. Other types of vitamin deficiencies, such as lack of B12 vitamins leads to uracil being incorporated into DNA, as well as chromosome breaks. This is similar to the type of damage caused by various forms of radiation.

Dr. Bruce Ames' research on aging has also included work in attempting to determine the effect of particularly high doses of vitamin B in delaying the decay of mitochondria as a result of aging. Perhaps as many as one third of all mutations in a gene can result in the enzyme related to that gene having a decreased binding affinity (known as Km) for their coenzyme. It has been shown that this may possibly be reduced or eliminated by the introduction of high doses of Vitamin B.

Because of the research done by Dr. Bruce Ames and associates, the effects of aging have been shown to be capable of being slowed or perhaps even halted. With future research, the ability to extend the human life span even further than already possible seems within our grasp.