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Dietary supplements make old rats youthful, may help rejuvenate aging humans, according to UC Berkeley study

Berkeley - Two dietary supplements straight off the health food store shelf put the spark back into aging rats, and might do the same for aging baby boomers, according to a study at the University of California, Berkeley, and Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute.

A team of researchers led by Bruce N. Ames, professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, fed older rats two chemicals normally found in the body's cells and available as dietary supplements: acetyl-L-carnitine and an antioxidant, alpha-lipoic acid.

In three articles in the February 19 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ames and his colleagues report the surprising results. Not only did the older rats do better on memory tests, they had more pep, and the energy-producing organelles in their cells worked better.

"With the two supplements together, these old rats got up and did the Macarena," said Ames, also a researcher at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI). "The brain looks better, they are full of energy - everything we looked at looks more like a young animal."

"The animals seem to have much more vigor and are much more active than animals not on this diet, signaling massive improvement to these animals' health and well-being," said former UC Berkeley post-doctoral fellow Tory M. Hagen, now an assistant professor at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, Corvallis. "And we also see a reversal in loss of memory. That is a dual-track improvement that is significant and unique. This is really starting to explode and move out of the realm of basic research into people."

Based on the group's earlier studies, the University of California patented use of the combination of the two supplements to rejuvenate cells. Ames, through the Bruce and Giovanna Ames Foundation, and Hagen founded a company in 1999 called Juvenon to license the patent from the university. Juvenon currently is engaged in huma
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Contact: Robert Sanders
rls@pa.urel.berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
18-Feb-2002


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