All around the world, companies profit off of the idea of “anti-aging” products; but could these various serums, skincare products, and supplements even have an impact? A study from the University of Edinburgh, in which researchers analyzed six different genetic studies surrounding human aging, suggests otherwise. Instead, after analyzing 857 proteins from genetic information from hundreds of thousands of people, scientists have reason to believe that two distinct blood proteins have negative effects on aging. As we know from AP Bio, different individuals naturally have higher or lower levels of certain proteins depending on their genetics, and the DNA they inherit from their parents. Additionally, we know that each parent provides 23 chromosomes, which encode the same genes, totaling to 46. This means that if your parent has high levels of specific proteins, you have a significant chance of inheriting that.
In the case of these two blood proteins, LPA and VCAM1, people who inherited DNA that causes raised levels of these proteins were overall much more weak, unhealthy, and less likely to live a long life. Lipoprotein (a), a lipoprotein variant containing a protein called Apolipoprotein (a), is made in the liver. High levels of this protein are associated with a vast increase in the risk of atherosclerosis, which is a cardiovascular disease in which there is a thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by a buildup of fatty substances in the inner lining of the arteries. Additionally, LPA is also linked to coronary heart disease and strokes. The second protein, vascular cell adhesion protein 1, or VCAM1, is a protein found mainly on endothelial cells lining the blood vessels. It primarily controls blood vessel expansion and retraction. Elevated levels of VCAM1 are associated with long-term risk of heart failure.
Currently, there are clinical trials working to reduce the risk of heart disease through testing a drug to lower LPA. While there are no trials surrounding VCAM1 at the moment, there has been some animal testing done on mice to see the effects of lowering this protein. In these tests, researchers found that antibodies lowering VCAM1 levels improved cognition in old age for the mice.
The scientific progress and research regarding these two blood proteins is profoundly important, for it has revealed two key targets for future drugs to extend the lifespan of humans who aren’t genetically blessed. It is medical progress and news like this that continuously help us remain hopeful as we, and our loved ones, age.