An Australian researcher may have discovered an enzyme within the body that protects against a number of age-related conditions, including dementia.
Professor David Sinclair of the University of New South Wales tested 117 drugs that are used to treat a variety of diseases and found that all operate through a common mechanism and target a single enzyme.
SIRT1 is produced naturally during exercise and a calorie-controlled diet is also known to increase its number. It is now thought that treatments designed specifically to activate production could help in the fight against diseases such as dementia, Parkinson's and type 2 diabetes.
"Ultimately, these drugs would treat one disease, but unlike drugs of today, they would prevent 20 others," Prof Sinclair explained.
He suggests the first such treatment that reaches the market will be for diabetes, revealing the drugs his team are currently producing imitate the effect of diet and exercise but do not impact upon a person's weight.
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