Research based on an accidental discovery has found that common blood pressure therapy could slow the rapid aging process associated with diabetics.
“As a natural consequence of the aging process, excess sugars attach themselves to our long-lived proteins such as collagen, making our skin, kidneys and blood vessels deteriorate. In diabetics, this happens almost 50 times faster,” says Baker Medical Research Institute scientist, Josephine Forbes.
According to Dr Forbes, Angiotension II (a substance which induces high blood pressure in diabetes) may be involved in the production of sticky, harmful complexes formed between sugar and protein. These sticky complexes accumulate in the body and disrupt the normal tissue structure, resulting in the signs of aging such as wrinkling.
“Our preliminary studies show these sticky sugar-proteins can be reduced by the use of one of the common, safe human blood-pressure treatments,” says Dr Forbes.
“Blood pressure therapy may also act as a blocker of Angiotension II, slowing the accumulation of sticky complexes and therefore slowing the aging process in diabetics,” she says.
“Once we identify how the blood pressure treatment works, we can develop new treatments for diabetes sufferers.”
Researchers estimate that one quarter of the population will develop diabetes within 10 to 15 years of turning 40.
Dr Forbes says more research is needed to determine the possible application of the blood pressure therapy in slowing aging in the normal population.
Fresh Science is a national research competition where 16 ‘fresh scientists’ (unpublished in the media) are selected with regard to the quality of their research and their ability to communicate that research. Over four days they present their research to the media, students, and the public, and compete for two prizes: a study tour of the UK courtesy of the British Council, and an ABC Science Media Fellowship