Professor Chris Hutchison, a member of the Biophysical Sciences Institute, Durham University, said: "In children with progeria, we can see that double-strand breaks in the DNA architecture of cells increase which in turn adds to poor rates of cell growth. Our treatment of these cells with the drug N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) reversed both of these effects.
"Mutations in the LMNA gene cause more diseases, such as muscular dystrophy, than any other that we know. We've found that DNA damage can be controlled and our findings could be an important step to helping both children with progeria and older people to live lives that are less debilitating in terms of health problems."
The researchers said their findings were at an early stage and further studies and human clinical trials would be needed to develop effective drug treatments.
Professor Hutchison added: "We are using a careful approach that will look at patients with progeria to see if there's a model that can be used for wider medicine. It would be great to find a way to help relieve some of the effects of progeria and to extend the children's lives, whilst also finding a way to help increasingly ageing populations in many parts of the world.
"The findings are at a very early stage but they show the potential for helping people to live more comfortable and less painful lives when they reach 70 and 80 years of age and beyond."
Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome "Progeria" or "HGPS" is a rare, fatal genetic condition characterized by an appearance of accelerated aging in children. Progeria has a reported incidence of about 1 in 4 - 8 million newborns from all over the world. It affects both sexes equally and all races. Although they are born looking healthy, children with Progeria begin to display many characteristics of accelerated aging at around 18-24 months of age.
|Contact: Carl Stiansen|