Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Gene-expression biomarkers as tool to measure anti aging drugs effectiveness

Gene-expression biomarkers: A tool for developing longevity-enhancing drugs? Ouroboros 6/19/07 "The discovery (and approval) of anti-aging pharmaceuticals is hindered by at least one major practical impediment: Measurement of the simplest biological endpoint of interest — length of lifespan — takes a long time. This is true even if one focuses first on shorter-lived model organisms: a normal healthy mouse can live for several years in a laboratory environment, and if this mouse is taking an effective longevity drug then (by assumption) one will take longer than that to observe the increase in lifespan...Consequently, much attention has been paid to the idea of aging biomarkers, i.e., phenotypes that can be measured throughout the lifespan and that reflect the percent of lifespan that has elapsed...Gene expression measurements are excellent biomarkers: they are both quantitative (”I am expressing three times as much of gene A at age 2 than I was at age 1″), and also robust — because one can measure all of the genes in the genome simultaneously, using microarrays or similar approaches, small perturbations in the levels of single transcripts don’t obscure the overall picture...One major advantage of using gene expression biomarkers to monitor the effect of candidate longevity drugs is that one doesn’t have to wait a human lifetime (or even a mouse lifetime) in order to observe clues that a drug have anti-aging activity"

The anti-diabetic drug metformin is mentioned as hitting some of the genetic biomarkers as CR. More at Ouroboros. Which brings up a question that Ouroboros raised a short while back - might CR and CR drug mimics cause depression? Does metformin cause depression? It doesn't appear to. In the list of adverse effects, depression is not one. Oddly, raised levels of homocysteine for long term users and also decreased B-12 absorption (the two are related) are listed as side effects. If metformin does increases lifespan for us, it does it in the face of some popular but crude aging biomarkers like homcysteine levels.

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