CALIFORNIA: A team of scientists at the Buck Institute in California has uncovered a new “drug-like” molecule with potential anti-aging properties, found in plants and cinnamon, which appears to slow aging by promoting the health of cells’ mitochondria, the cell’s energy-producing powerhouse.
The researchers identified a bioactive compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that enhances a cell’s garbage disposal and recycling center, a process known as mitophagy. As mitophagy tends to decline with age, this discovery holds promise for combatting age-related diseases and extending lifespan.
The compound, named Mitophagy-Inducing Compound (MIC), belongs to a class of molecules called coumarins, naturally found in plants like cinnamon and tonka beans. The researchers tested MIC on tiny roundworms, observing an average extension of 20 days in their lifespan, with some living more than 30 days.
New ‘Drug-Like’ Molecule to Slow Aging
Mitophagy is a crucial cellular process that disposes of worn-out or damaged mitochondria, preventing the accumulation of cellular waste. The slowdown of mitophagy is associated with various age-related diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders, heart failure, obesity, and loss of muscle mass.
MIC was found to boost mitophagy by acting on a receptor that humans also possess, suggesting potential applicability to humans. The researchers identified a key protein, TFEB, that MIC enhances, contributing to cells’ garbage-clearing processes.
While further research is needed to understand the full implications and mechanisms of MIC, the scientists express optimism about its potential as a “drug-like molecule” with therapeutic effects across various models. MIC’s natural origin and its impact on age-related processes make it a promising candidate for further exploration in the field of geroscience.