Dr. Nir Barzilai, founder of biotechnology company CohBar (OTCQX: CWBR and TSXV: COB.U), was recently featured in the National Geographic docu-series Breakthrough: The Age of Aging.Produced by filmmaker Ron Howard, Breakthrough covers developments, research and “scientific breakthroughs” on a range of important topics including aging, the brain, water and energy. Howard directed the episode The Age of Aging, featuring Dr. Barzilai, which focuses on the science of aging, his seminal study of centenarians and his leadership efforts working with the FDA to advance an unprecedented clinical trial of a drug targeting the process and diseases of aging.
Dr. Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has been doing research for over a decade to better understand why centenarians have been able to live long, productive and healthy lives without being saddled with major age-related diseases. In his Longevity Genes Project, Dr.Barzilai and his team have conducted genetic research on more than 500 healthy elderly people between the ages of 95 and 112 and on their children. As part of Dr. Barzilai’s research, he also investigated the lifestyle habits of each centenarian. In The Age of Aging episode, one centenarian revealed that she had been a smoker for 50 years and another confessed that he goes to Dunkin’ Donuts every afternoon for coffee and a Boston Creme. Based on analysis of the data, Dr. Barzilai and his colleagues determined that the secret to the centenarians’ long life is found in their genetic makeup.
“Fifty percent of them are obese. Fifty percent of them do not exercise. Sixty percent of the men and thirty percent of the women are smoking,” said Dr. Barzilai. “It is in spite of all this that they have some protection that allows them to easily get to age 100.”
Fascinated by these initial findings, Dr. Barzilai, along with CohBar founder, Dr. Pinchas Cohen, went on to discover dozens of genes in the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) , that encode certain peptides, a number of which have shown in animal studies to be protective against various age-related diseases. High levels of a particular peptide called Humanin, found in the centenarians and their offspring, have displayed protective effects in various disease models, including Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, and Type 2 Diabetes.
“Interestingly, the goal isn’t simply to extend life,” said Howard. “It’s entirely about the extension of quality time, of years when someone can be highly productive and apply what he or she knows and has learned in a very active way. The research really focuses on delaying the onset of the diseases of aging, like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. That’s the way to enrich lives.”
Fortune magazine estimated that a drug that helps prevent age-related diseases could be worth $25 billion annually. Currently, Dr. Barzilai aims to persuade the FDA to approve a proposed anti-aging trial. “We cannot change your genes so that you can become 100 years old,” said Dr. Barzilai. “But, we can design medications based on our knowledge that will interfere with this pathway, and interact, intervene, and delay the effects of aging.”
To view the full episode featuring Dr. Nir Barzilai please visit http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/breakthrough-series/episodes/the-age-of-aging/.
For more information about CohBar, visit www.cohbar.com.
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