Jan. 7, 2005 University of California, Riverside Professor of Biochemistry Stephen Spindler has received the inaugural Methuselah Mouse Rejuvenation Prize for his research in calorie restriction and its role in reversing aging in middle-aged laboratory mice, while extending their overall lifespan.
The Methuselah Foundation of Lorton, Va. presented Spindler the prize at a Nov. 21 ceremony during the 2004 Gerontological Society of America Conference in Washington, D.C. The foundation is a nonprofit organization of professional and nonprofessional volunteers who believe that the control of aging is foreseeable.
The aim of the prize is to speed the development of anti-aging interventions and promote public awareness of the prospects for them. According to a foundation statement, the research was "astounding because it worked on mice later in life."
According to Spindler's research, the fewer calories an animal consumes - provided malnutrition is avoided - the slower an animal ages and the lower the death rate from cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Spindler has served on several advisory groups and committees for the National Institute on Aging and National Institutes of Health.
He has been probing the life-extending effects of calorie restriction using advance gene chip technology, which is used to monitor and measure changes in gene expression. The major conclusions from his study are that many of the life-extension effects of calorie restriction happen rapidly and that these effects can be shown not only in young animals but also in older animals not previously on calorie restriction.
Spindler's intervention extended the average and maximum lifespan of the mice by about 15 percent and reduced the number of deaths from cancer, which increases in risk with age. His prize is in one of two categories recognized by the Methuselah Foundation: postponement and reversal. The postponement prize is for the oldest-ever lab mouse while the reversal price, known as the rejuvenation prize, is for the best late-onset intervention.
The rejuvenation prize is considered more important for the short term. That is because while a variety of interventions can be developed to create strains of mice that will live exceptionally long lives, the techniques cannot be applied to humans who are already alive and aging.
Spindler's prize-winning research was first reported in the April 13, 2004 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in a paper titled Temporal Linkage Between the Phenotypic and Genomic Responses to Caloric Restriction. He worked with scientists from the Campbell, Calif.-based BioMarker Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which is working to develop drugs that reproduce the beneficial effects of caloric restriction.
In awarding the prize to Spindler, Methuselah Foundation Chairman Aubrey de Grey, a biogerontologist with Cambridge University in the UK, noted the importance of such anti-aging research.
"Increased life spans in humans will result in increased knowledge to solve many of the problems we face," said de Grey. Making people younger, he said, would also "make them more productive for longer lives."
The University of California, Riverside is a major research institution and a national center for the humanities. Key areas of research include nanotechnology, genomics, environmental studies, digital arts and sustainable growth and development. With a current undergraduate and graduate enrollment of more than 17,000, the campus is projected to grow to 21,000 students by 2010. Located in the heart of inland Southern California, the nearly 1,200-acre, park-like campus is at the center of the region's economic development.
# # # Web Links to additional Information:
Stephen Spindler's faculty Web site - http://www.biochemistry.ucr.edu/faculty/spindler.html The Web site for the Methuselah Mouse Award - http://www.mprize.org/
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