Report: Drug Could Repair DNA Damaged by Aging and Radiation, Help Astronauts Reach Mars

Mars (NASA / Associated Press)
NASA / Associated Press

Scientists may have discovered a proverbial Fountain of Youth that NASA is very interested in.

Dr. Lindsay Wu, Professor David Sinclair, and a team of researchers have found something that may very well redefine the scope of mortality itself: a biological signal for DNA repair and cell aging that promises to upend traditional notions of what it means to age.

Their goal was a pill that could raise the life expectancy of Martian colonists by healing the damage caused by the intense solar radiation to which astronauts are exposed. Already, our spacefarers are bombarded by enough radiation that a voyage to Mars carries with it an almost one hundred percent chance of cancer. A full five percent of their cells would have died.

Wu and Sinclair’s treatment could reduce or even eliminate that — not merely reclaiming the damage done to cells in spaceflight, but revitalizing the systems that break down as we age. The signaler they found has been dubbed “NAD+” and is present in every single cell in our bodies. It is effectively a control panel for proteins that repair our decaying DNA as we grow older.

Dr. Wu described the ravages of childhood cancer, as well as the complications that subsequently build up because of children who are aged prematurely by both cancer and its treatments. The NAD+ booster could mitigate or reverse this, offering survivors a life that would have previously been thought practically impossible.

In trials, geriatric mice treated with their NAD+ booster were rendered virtually indistinguishable from their younger counterparts within a week. Yes, really. Sinclair says that “this is the closest we are to a safe and effective anti-aging drug that’s perhaps only three to five years away from being on the market if the trials go well.”

The Daily Mail reports human trials “will begin within six months” at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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