When it comes to sirtuins, the first question you will probably ask is “What in the heck sirtuins are?”
Sirtuins are a class of proteins that are responsible for regulating our biological pathways. “Biological pathways” is the scientist’s way of saying “cellular changes”. Such pathways are considered as the formation of new molecules or mechanisms which turn certain genes “on” or “off.”
Sirtuins are connected to biological pathways which affect aging, as well as apoptosis (cell death), caloric resistance, energy efficiency, inflammation, stress resistance, and transcription or also known as genetic copying.
Why should we care?
Sirtuins are a biological, as well as chemical phenomenon with a potential ability to impact the health and the well-being of the human race.
We know that the previous sentence may sound like an intro to a sci-fi thriller, but it is nonetheless true.
The story starts with Dr. David Sinclair, who is an Australian-born Biology professor and founder of the Sinclair Lab at Harvard University. In one ground-breaking 2003 study, Sinclair, together with his team, discovered the following:
Caloric restriction slows the pace of aging, and it also increases maximum lifespan. With the increase of the activity of SIR2, the evolutionary origins of this phenomenon also suggest some new lines of research into the therapeutic use of sirtuin activators.
It also turns out that Dr. Sinclair was onto something, as his former company Sirtuins was purchased by Pharma conglomerate GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million.
How may sirtuins be the next great discovery?
The Sinclair Lab, which is located within the Department of Genetics in the Harvard Medical School, states:
“Even though we are heavily focusing on understanding fundamental mechanisms of aging at the genetic and biochemical levels, the more pressing goal is to find new, as well as effective ways to treat some common diseases which include type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer and heart failure.”
You may also notice that the diseases, as well as illnesses that are cited by Sinclair’s team, are also the leading causes of death among human beings. As we age, the risk factors of the conditions mentioned above increase drastically, making the research of Sinclair all the more vital.
Shortly, Sinclair may have found the scientific “fountain of youth,” as it were: little protein enzymes which are called sirtuins.
Red wine and sirtuins: a fascinating link.
Every one of us has heard that red wine is beneficial for human health, which is completely true. What you may not know is why it is so beneficial, and how it may play an essential role in slowing aging, as well as age-related disorders.
The health benefits that red wine has resulted from its high concentration of antioxidants that are called polyphenols. Polyphenols help in protecting the lining of our blood vessels in your heart, which can also decrease the risk of coronary artery disease, a condition which results in heart attacks.
The key ingredient, as well as the one that is linked to sirtuin, is called resveratrol. Resveratrol can prevent damages to blood vessels. It also reduces LDL, which is bad cholesterol, and it prevents blood clots. For these reasons alone, sipping on the occasional glass of red wine is worth it, and the benefits also do not end here.
Resveratrol is also a powerful catalyst for sirtuin activity. One study at the Harvard University from 2013 concludes the following:
“Resveratrol directly activates the protein which promotes health and longevity in animal models. Researchers have also discovered the molecular mechanism for this interaction. And it shows that a class of more potent drugs which is currently in clinical trials act similarly.”
Dr. Sinclair says:
“In the history of pharmaceuticals, there has never existed a drug which can make a protein to run faster in the way that resveratrol activates SIRT1. Almost all the drugs either slow or block them.”
In other words, the meticulous research of Dr. Sinclair provides, for the first time, convincing scientific evidence which demonstrates the possibility of slowing the aging process – and, together with it – age-related diseases, as well as illnesses.
The sirtuin research of Hening Lin.
Hening Lin is a Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University. In one way, Dr. Lin has advanced the discoveries of Dr. Sinclair by focusing on some other crucial health benefits that sirtuins have.
Professor Lin focuses on all the seven enzymes of sirtuin and follows on that of some other researchers studying aging that linked some of these enzymes to longevity.
But, he has brought some new insight too.
While the work of Dr. Sinclair focuses primarily on the anti-aging functions of “primary” sirtuins (“SIRT1, SIRT 2, SIRT 3 SIR 4), Dr. Lin has discovered that the so-called “orphan” sirtuins have plenty of potential too, especially as a potential cancer treatment.
Collaborating with two of his colleagues named Robert S. Weiss and Richard A. Cerione (both Cornell researchers), Lin has also researched, as well as developed prototype drug molecules which are capable of manipulating sirtuin activity. The results to this point have been remarkably promising because the drug molecules have shown “excellent anticancer activity.”
As with the research of Sinclair, the research of Lin may lead to future development of cancer pharmaceuticals, among some other promising drugs.
Within the scientific community, it is a well-known fact, and it has been for years, that sirtuin regulates certain biological pathways.
But, it was not until the groundbreaking research of Dr. Sinclair which was first published in 2003, that people started understanding the potential of the enzyme. The brilliance of Sinclair had become so well-known that the University of Harvard gave him his genetics lab. It is not something that happens too often.
Just as important, as well as impressive, the research of Dr. Sinclair has inspired a lot of other geneticists, biologists, and chemists to continue his important work. As it was noted, Dr. Hening Lin is one such scientist who focuses his attempts on the anti-cancer properties that sirtuins have.
In other words, converting the neurological effects of aging, as well as bringing cancer to its knees may also come very soon.