A substance that can slow down the brain-aging clock was found by Tony Wyss-Coray, a neuroscientist at Stanford. Wyss-Coray has spent the last 20 years researching and making new compounds with neuroprotective and neurodegenerative effects.
These molecules can be located inside or on various types of cells in the brain. Also in the blood arteries that are next to it, or they can be found floating in the blood and the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds it. As we become older, the significance of these things will only grow.
Wyss-Coray and his colleagues have found chemicals in the blood that may either speed up or slow down the clock. That is the clock that measures the progression of brain aging. Even though there is a barrier between the blood and the brain, researchers were able to find proteins on the surface of blood vessels.
These are responsible for some of the chemicals’ ability to function in the brain. He has even demonstrated that older animals may appear and behave like younger mice. This is after getting cerebrospinal fluid from young mice.
Wyss-Coray summarized his results in the realm of cognitive rejuvenation for better understanding. He is the head of the Phil and Penny Knight Initiative for Brain Resilience as well as the D. H. Chen Distinguished Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.
A substance that can slow down the brain-aging clock was found
Problems associated with aging are starting to become more noticeable for the majority of individuals. That is, especially when they reach the age of 50 or 60. This is the moment when we understand that not being able to retrieve the name of a person or a word that is at the tip of the tongue is not merely the consequence of having a terrible day.
However, it is more a sign of getting older — just like wrinkles or graying hair. Because of the increasing frequency of these memory lapses, we find that we need to talk more slowly in order to be able to substitute other words for the ones we forget.
Although it is not known how the normal cognitive decline associated with aging relates to more severe cognitive impairment and dementia, it is known that one-third of Americans over the age of 85 have symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. This number will double over the next ten years of a person’s life. We don’t have any way yet to predict who might get dementia from forgetting, which is a shame.
On the other hand, not everyone is destined to follow this trajectory toward deterioration. It appears that one centenarian out of every three does not experience cognitive deterioration. This not only gives us reason to be optimistic. However, it also gives us a platform from which to investigate the effects of aging on the brain. Also on cognitive loss.
“Young fluids” as a potential method of mental rejuvenation
It is hard to get brain tissue from people who are still alive. So we focused our research on spinal fluid and blood. These early studies of fluids from older people with normal cognition and patients with Alzheimer’s disease were hindered by unreliable assays. However, they showed us one thing: overall age-related changes in the protein composition of the blood were profound. These studies were conducted more than 15 years ago.
We were able to demonstrate that the levels of a huge number of proteins considerably varied. That is between the 20th and 90th years of a person’s life. Age is by far the most important driver of risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. So, the question became whether the changes we observed were a cause or a consequence of brain aging. This is because age is the most important driver of risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
To find out, we resorted to a method that a former professor of neurology at Stanford Medicine named Tom Rando, MD, PhD (now at UCLA), whose lab was right next to mine, was using to study the aging of muscle stem cells. This method involves surgically conjoining the circulatory systems of a young mouse and an old mouse. This is so that the animals share their blood.
Results from intravenous infusions
What we found to be true was surprising. In elderly mice exposed to the blood of their younger companion, there was an increase in the number of specific types of neurons. There is also an increase in neuronal activity and a reduction in brain inflammation.
After receiving repeated intravenous infusions of young plasma (the liquid part of the blood), aged mice got smarter. They also performed more similarly to young mice on a variety of cognitive tests. That is, after being treated by our laboratory with old plasma. On the other hand, when young mice were given old blood or treated with plasma that contained old blood, their brains aged faster and their cognitive abilities got worse.
The implication for human beings
The findings have been partially applied to human beings in various ways. Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to improve significantly after receiving infusions of youthful plasma in clinical studies. Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease showed significant functional gains.
That is, after having their plasma removed and then replaced with plasma. That is, plasma that was high in albumin and derived from younger donors. This was in a clinical trial that was controlled by a placebo and carried out under conditions of double blindness and double anonymity.
This suggests that the research on blood-exchange mice could be used to study people. This also showed that blood plasma could be the key to finding out how to make people younger.
A large number of chemicals and proteins that could be found in different body fluids and tissues. These substances and proteins all work in different locations to maintain the vitality of distinct cell types in the brain.
Different sorts of chemicals, cells and processes seem to create the same effects.
The field of biology is an intricate network of interdependent processes. Proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and metabolites are only a few of the components that make up the several hundred thousand nodes that make up the network that we name a biological organism. Each of these parts has a function that has been improved by evolution. In some cases, this function is important and can’t be replaced, but in other cases it is unnecessary.
Imagine that there is a flight map of the United States that includes all airlines and is made up of hundreds of connecting points, some of which are more significant than others.
By transporting both commodities and people from one location to another, the network contributes to the functioning of the economy. It’s possible that removing some nodes will bring down the whole system, while removing others won’t cause too much trouble.
It has been shown that many of the most effective medications, such as the time-tested anti-inflammatory aspirin, target many biochemical pathways in a wide variety of cell types and tissues. This is one of the reasons why these medications have been so widely used.
People have called young plasma or spinal fluid “nature’s cocktails.” They seem to have hundreds of helpful proteins and probably other kinds of compounds as well, and they may still be the most powerful medicine.
At least in mice, it appears that they may be able to obtain therapeutic effects by using particular protein components that we’ve found. One type of protein may be very helpful for preventing muscle loss, while another type of protein may improve cognitive performance.
Keeping the brain in good shape
It appears that stress is the most significant contributor to the harm that we may impose on our bodies. It not only causes physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, stomach issues, chest discomfort, and disrupted sleep, but it also weakens the immune system and adds to inflammation, perhaps speeding up the aging process. This may be attributed to the fact that it disrupts sleep. Stress that lasts for a long time is a major cause of mental symptoms and sadness.
According to recent findings from a large study, modifiable risk factors such as hypertension, obesity and inactivity may account for up to 40% of dementia cases in the United States. There is not yet a pharmaceutical therapy that is considered to be effective for cognitive decline or neurodegeneration.
In their absence, some of the most powerful advantages to brain function are those that have been scientifically established. These benefits come from engaging in physical activity.
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