Janet Poveromo sits down with Greg Macpherson in a Q&A session about healthy aging.
Question: Why is it important to understand aging?
Answer: Aging is the single biggest risk factor for poor health. Despite the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been spent on the biggest issues associated with advanced age like cancer, Parkinson’s Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease, we are not making the progress we should. By understanding how we age and strategies to slow it down, we can delay or bypass the onset of these life-threatening health conditions. The benefit from a societal perspective in achieving this will be significant.
Question: How did you become interested in studying the topic?
Answer: I have always been interested in combining my background in pharmacy with the latest in technology to find ways to improve health. Earlier in my career this involved creating solutions using web technology and later, robotics. Biotechnology is now entering a phase where we can harness our understanding on how to slow the aging process. It’s a fascinating rabbit hole to do a deep dive into and it aligns with the very reason I got involved in pharmacy—to help people improve their health.
Question: What are the “nine hallmarks?”
Answer: The nine hallmarks of aging were first published in the Cell journal in 2013; they are: genomic instability, epigenetic alterations, telomere attrition, mitochondrial dysfunction, intercellular communication decline, stem cell fatigue, cellular senescence, loss of proteostasis and nutrient sensing dysregulation.
Question: How can cellular repair and protection be achieved? What is a good age to begin?
Answer: One of the key results from the hallmarks of aging paper was the identification of targets for researchers to focus on to slow and even reverse the aging process. Understanding these targets has given us the ability to use molecules like Hobamine to reduce the lifetime impact of oxidative stress on our cells and cellular machinery. We also have insight into the advantages of boosting NAD levels (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) in the cell and the benefits of reducing the burden of senescent cells on our body using molecules like Fisetin. Like all preventative strategies, it’s never too late to start, but getting started earlier in life will provide the best outcome for the most robust health span.
Question: Other comments?
Answer: We are fortunate to be the first generation of humans with advanced understanding of cellular aging and access to superior supplements that leverage that knowledge. However, the importance of exercise and a healthy diet, including fasting to support autophagy and sugar reduction, should not be neglected as these two interventions are still the best way to maintain optimal health.