Progeria is a rare genetic disease that ages before time. Suffering children show the same symptoms as an 80-year-old person, such as brittle bones and heart disease. They usually die within the age of 14 due to a heart attack or a stroke. Dr. Zoe Gillespie has found that dieting cells could slow the process down.
The researcher tested metformin on cells of patients with progeria. It is a drug used for type 2 diabetes that mimics the condition of a body on a diet. According to the study, the cells treated in this way have better functions and live longer.
The discovery could therefore improve the quality of life of other categories of people, such as the elderly and the obese. The drug makes the cells believe that the body is eating less. As a result, the cells enter a state of energy saving and begin to recycle the material already present. This also leads them to use progerin, the protein that causes the disease.
The whole thing slows down the ultra-rapid aging of the cells and could slow down the course of the disease. By applying it to children with progeria, their quality and life expectancy could be increased. The cells would indeed be able to function better and live longer. Furthermore, the drug replaces some of the abnormal chromosomes of the disease.
In this way the shape and the functions of the cells improve further, with a beneficial effect on the whole organism. According to the researcher, a combination of metformin and diet could change the life of those suffering from the disease. However, before therapy is applied to humans, further tests on animal models will be needed.