Have scientists discovered the elixir of youth?

American boffins say they have discovered a compound with “remarkable anti-ageing effects in mice”.
They now believe that the compound, which naturally occurs in cucumber, broccoli and avocado, could have a similar effect on humans.
Scientists who have now begun clinical trials with a small number of people, gave older mice a compound called NMN in their drinking water.
Researchers noted that the mice benefited in a number of ways, including improved levels of physical activity, better bone density and an improvement in muscle tone. Their immune system was also improved as was their eyesight and liver function. They even lost some weight.
Scientists first began to look at a protein known as NAD, which is necessary for energy.
Less NAD is produced when animals get older and it is believed this adds to the natural ageing process. Researchers at first tried to add NAD to the body, but that did not work, so they looked at methods to actually boost its production.
They gave NMN to mice in their water to see if that would work by giving them more energy.
Lead researcher Professor Shin-ichiro Imai, from Washington University in St Louis, said the trial had been a resounding success.
He said: “NHM has remarkable anti-ageing effects in mice,” adding: “Those NMN fed mice definitely have longer health span, entire lifespan, we’re not sure, but if this keeps working in this way they could have a longer lifespan as well.”
He and his team said they had found a way to slow down the ageing process in mice, with older mice who were part of the test having the metabolism and energy levels usually expected from younger mice.
He said he was confident trials on humans, which have now started in Japan, would have similar results, explaining: “Since human cells rely on this same energy production process, we are hopeful this will translate into a method to help people remain healthier as they age.”
However, there are fears that increasing NAD levels could provide not just an energy boost to the body overall, but to cancer cells.
Prof Imai said that there were concerns giving NMN might increase the incidence of cancer, although no adverse effects were seen in the trial with mice.
The benefits of the trial were only experienced by older mice. When young mice were given the compound, there were no improvements in their health because they were still making enough of their own NMN.