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    Specialized proteins shown to delay or accelerate aging in the brain, heart, and skeletal muscle

    June 20, 2016

    Can specialized proteins delay or accelerate aging in the brain, heart, and skeletal muscle?
    CPMC Research Institute’s Steven Cummings, MD, and colleagues are launching a new study of anti-aging mechanisms

    New research is revealing specialized proteins in the blood that may repair and regenerate cells in the elderly. For decades, scientists have searched for insights into the anti-aging effects of parabiosis, a technique in which researchers stitch a young mouse and an old mouse together so that they share a circulatory system. Early findings showed that proteins in the young mouse’s blood appeared to rejuvenate the old mouse, with results including regeneration of wasting muscles and restored cognitive abilities.

    Steve Cummings, MD, CPMC Research Institute Senior Scientist and Director of the San Francisco Coordinating Center, and colleagues are launching a new study investigating these proteins and their effects on age-related biological processes. Their study (Comprehensive Evaluation of Aging-Related Clinical Outcomes and Geroproteins, or CARGO) launched this week, and represents a unique project that was awarded new funds from the National Institute on Aging.

    Certain proteins in the blood (i.e., circulating proteins) contribute to thickening of the arteries, brain cell death, bone loss, muscle wasting, and other age-related biological effects, and can help predict the onset of illnesses such as dementia, heart failure, osteoporosis, arthritis, mobility disorders, as well as mortality.

    Several of these candidate proteins—including growth differentiation factor (GDF)11 and approximately a dozen more—can have beneficial (age-related) effects in older adults.

    “Our study harnesses the comprehensive data and statistical power of the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) and Dynamics of Health and Body Composition Study (Health ABC) to analyze whether proteins discovered to delay or accelerate aging in the brain, heart, and skeletal muscle are associated with clinical outcomes,” said Dr. Cummings. “This study will provide a comprehensive picture of the potential of these proteins to give rise to new treatments for major causes of aging-related disability and mortality.”

    Dr. Cummings anticipates that interim results of the study will be available in approximately two to three years.