Frontier of the study of aging and lifespanNMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide). This unfamiliar substance became known to the general public inspired by the 2015 NHK Special “Next World: Our Future”. The TV program, “How Long Does Life Extend” featured NMN as a “rejuvenating drug” that researchers at Washington and Harvard University are studying. The long-held dream of mankind, “want to stay younger and healthy as I grow older” is now becoming real. The TV program concluded that this rejuvenating drug would be realized in 2045, however today how far has the research on aging progressed? This is a very interesting back-casting story of NMN and product development that could save the super-aging society by Kei Yamana, CEO of NOMON.
When it comes to “rejuvenating medicine”, it may sound like a fairy tale. For example, Amrita, an immortal, or a herbal medicine that the first Qin Emperor sought. But what we will introduce here is the science of the 21st century based on the latest knowledge.
The research aimed at realizing rejuvenation and controlling aging has the potential to solve a major problem that our super-aging society is facing, and academic institutions around the world have been working on the subject for many years. In 1980-90, through the full use of molecular biology and molecular genetics, it was discovered that the aging and longevity systems were evolutionary conserved genetic and biochemical processes that could be controlled. In 2000, a paper was published and made a major impact on aging research. The paper is about the study of Sirtuin by Professors Guarente Leonard and Shinichiro Imai, professors of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sirtuin is proteins that are widely found in organisms from bacteria to mammals, but until now their functions are largely unknown. The two researchers have announced that Sirtuin is special enzymes involved in controlling aging and longevity.
What is the mechanism of aging control?Prof. Imai found that NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) activates of Sirtuin. NAD is present in the cells of every living organism’s organs and tissues and is used to generate energy. NAD itself is not a novelty, as it is a source of metabolism in the body, first appeared in papers as a substance that promotes yeast alcohol fermentation in 1906, and so well-known that it always appears in biochemistry textbooks.
In humans, there are seven types of Sirtuin that control the aging of whole-body organs, but they are inactive and dormant in normal state, therefore require something to initiate activation. According to Prof. Imai it is NAD that is acting as a start switch. It is known that NAD decreases with aging. In other words, aging symptoms are decline of organ or tissue functions caused by decrease in NAD. It would be nice if simply refilling of missing NAD helps, but there was one problem. NAD levels can be increased by fasting or exercising but taking NAD itself does not deliver NDA to cells.
That’s where Professor Imai took notice. NMN is a substance that is naturally produced in humans and living organisms, and because it is contained in breast milk, it can be said that it is one of the first nutrients that humans ingest. NMN, which is also contained in green and yellow vegetables, facilitates restoring the function of the human body, and it is known that it is converted into NAD in the body when ingested.
When NMN was administered to mice in Prof. Imai’s laboratory for one year, the functional deterioration of many organs, such as middle-aged weight gain, decreased energy metabolism due to aging, decreased bone density, and decreased eye function, were significantly suppressed compared with normal mice. In other words, a clear anti-aging effect of NMN was confirmed. In addition, it was demonstrated that NMN has a remarkable effect on diabetes and other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, heart failure and renal failure. These results are all from animal studies, therefore it may be premature to expect a “rejuvenation ” effect in humans based on the results. But at least we can say rejuvenation of certain functions or control of aging in certain degree can be expected.
Daily intake of NMN: Expecting aging controlFrom these circumstances above mentioned, NMN has suddenly gained worldwide attention as a “rejuvenating medicine”. As of 2019, four years after the NHK TV program, the study of NMN anti-aging effect is ongoing in clinical researches targeting flail and diabetes.
On the other hand, supplements for daily intake of NMN have also been launched in the hope of delaying the aging phenomenon. NMN that can be ingested from foods such as broccoli, avocado, and green soybeans but gradually decreases with age, and in the late 50s it becomes about a half that of young people and further decreases thereafter, so that daily meal alone cannot provide sufficient amount. The supplement form NMN here can play a role to fill in this gap and control aging phenomena.
Effects of NMN are being clarified by state-of-the-art researches, but how does it impact us? Does the anti-aging effect work for human frail (a transition stage from a healthy state to a state requiring nursing care)? What kind of impact does it have for our society? NOMON, started this year as a nutraceutical company hope to offer food products that has a clear scientific basis for maintaining good health. Through NMN, wish to deliver the latest answers to aging and realize productive aging in a time of 100-year life span.
How do you think of the way you live in a super-aging society, productive retirement life, and your own later years? NOMON would like to listen to researchers as well as the general public your feelings and opinions.