Can a “certain” enzyme be the key to extending the human lifespan?
Some of the latest research on antiaging and longevity seems to point to a specific enzyme known as “Sirt6,” which could hold the key to a greater understanding of why humans age and provide an avenue for the development of some remarkably effective antiaging therapies.
In all mammals, there are seven different enzymes known as sirtuins, called Sirt1 through to Sirt7, but it is Sirt6 that is making the news among anti-aging circles. Sirt6 is a protein involved in regulating chromatin, the complex of DNA and protein found in our cells, and it has also been shown to play a role in metabolism, disease – and aging. Sirt6 is vital for repairing DNA damage – the kind of damage that leads to genomic instability and ultimately contributes to aging. The ability for Sirt6 to repair DNA damage wains with age. But studies have shown that supplementation with Sirt6 boosts DNA repair once again, so it is no surprise that this remarkable enzyme has been dubbed the “longevity sirtuin.”
Last year, Bar-Ilan University researchers were able to not only increase the life expectancy in mice with Sirt6 but use it to enable old mice to conduct the same level of vigorous activity as their young counterparts without becoming frail.
“This discovery, combined with our previous findings, shows that Sirt6 controls the rate of healthy aging,” said Professor Cohen of Bar-Ilan University’s Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences. “If we can determine how to activate it in humans, we will be able to prolong life, and this could have enormous health and economic implications.”
Before that, back in 2019, Vera Gorbunova, professor of biology at the University of Rochester, and her team demonstrated that an overexpression of Sirt6 protein leads to extended lifespan and also that the opposite is true – a deficiency can cause premature aging.
It has also been found that centenarians have an over-abundance of naturally occurring Sirt6.
These facts and findings are being leveraged for gene therapies designed to halt or slow the aging process by Genflow Biosciences, which earlier this year became Europe’s first publicly traded longevity biotech.
Although research has shown that overexpressing Sirt6 extends lifespan, the actual underlying cellular mechanisms still need unpicking; now a new paper, co-authored by Vera Gorbunova, which looks at Sirt6 function in fruit flys and examines its role in regulating longevity has provided insight into the mechanisms by which overexpression Sirt6 leads to a longer lifespan.
The researchers concluded that overexpressing Sirt6 “may extend lifespan and healthspan in flies via increased oxidative stress resistance and/or reduced protein synthesis.” Sirt6 increases lifespan, in part, by opposing the activity of Myc, a master regulator of protein synthesis, which is associated with decreased protein synthesis.”