Mayo Develops Groundbreaking Test On Anti-Aging Protein
Researchers at Mayo Clinic have discovered how to measure GDF11, described as an anti-aging protein in the body that can give foresight into a patient’s chances to suffer from chronic issues, frailty or cardiovascular disease later in life.
Those involved with the groundbreaking findings, which were published Tuesday, believe it could implicate or lay the foundation for numerous future studies.
“This is a crucial first step,” said Dr. Nathan LeBrasseur, senior author of the report, “and we need further studies designed to understand how we might be able to use GDF11 as a predictor of health outcomes as well as potential therapeutic benefits.”
Research involving GDF11 started turning heads in 2014 when two studies from Harvard concluded that restoring GDF11 levels could hypothetically “turn back the clock,” or “rejuvenate” the body and improve its regenerative functions, skeletal muscle, and even cognitive functions. Science magazine called it the Breakthrough of the Year, although that title did come with its dissenters.
“The role of GDF11 as a biomarker of aging and its association with age-related conditions has been largely contradictory, in part, because of how difficult it has been to measure,” Dr. LeBrasseur explained.
Scientists have often struggled with myostatin, a protein in the body that is deceptively similar to GDF11 and could therefore skew results. Dr. LeBrasseur and his team at Mayo’s Rochester headquarters, however, have overcome that issue.
Through the development of an extremely precise testing procedure, Mayo researchers can now distinguish between the “fingerprints”—or unique amino acid sequence features—of GDF11 and myostatin.
With this platform established, Mayo conducted a study on healthy men and women between 20 and 94 years old. The research found that GDF11 levels did not differ between sexes nor decrease with age.
Additionally, Mayo researchers were able to link increased GDF11 levels following heart valve replacement surgery to a higher prevalence of re-hospitalization and multiple adverse events.
Dr. Marissa Schafer, lead author of the Mayo study, called the results “a great example of bench-to-bedside research [with] direct relevance to medical management decisions.”
The latest discovery out of Mayo not only re-affirmed Harvard’s initial findings on GDF11, but it could be the key to something more profound. Through continued analysis, researchers believe the anti-aging protein could not only reshape treatment plans for life-threatening diseases but could also prolong life.