DNA Hack May Allow Reversal Of Aging Effects

HDAC1 may prevent aging

Should you stop worrying about aging after MIT researchers have found enzyme HDAC1 having a potential to prevent the DNA from damaging, which results in Alzheimer’s and cognitive disorder in old age?

Crux of the Matter

An enzyme called HDAC1 is responsible for preventing DNA damage to genes involved in memory and other cognitive functions. As per research, enzymes diminish in conditions of Alzheimer’s and aging. Previous studies focus on the involvement of HDAC1 in repairing DNA but this new study focuses on what happens to DNA in the absence of HDAC1.

A study was conducted on mice to understand the role of Enzyme HDAC1. Neurologists engineered mice without HDAC1 enzyme and compare results with healthy mice. The study confirms that in the absence of HDAC1, specific DNA damages build up in mice as the mice age.

What Can It Mean?
Researchers found that HDAC1 loss led to a specific type of DNA damage called 8-oxo-guanine lesions. An enzyme called OGG1 repairs the damage to DNA. HDAC1 is responsible to activate the OGG1 enzyme in the body. Based on the results, researchers showed that they can reverse this damage and improve cognitive function with a drug that activates HDAC1.

This study really positions HDAC1 as a potential new drug target for age-related phenotypes, as well as neurodegeneration-associated pathology and phenotypes.

Li-Huei Tsai, Director, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, MIT

This study will be a major breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and people suffering from cognitive problems in old age. Researchers tested an old dementia drug called exifone, which activates HDAC1 on mice. The result was beneficial as it reduced DNA damage in the brain, improving cognitive functions like memory. But exifone is harmful to the patient’s liver.

  • James Dewey Watson KBE is an American molecular biologist, geneticist and zoologist. Watson was awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material”.
  • Johannes Friedrich Miescher was a Swiss physician and biologist. DNA was first isolated by Miescher in 1869. The significance of the discovery was first published in 1871.
  • Aloysius Alzheimer was a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist. Alzheimer is credited with identifying the first published case of “presenile dementia”, which Emil Kraepelin (psychiatrist and colleague of Alzheimer) would later identify as Alzheimer’s disease.