The benefits of fasting have been known to scientists and medical professionals for some time now, however, for many, the reality of fasting is not alluring. Perhaps that’s why a class of substances called caloric restriction mimetics (CMRs) has received so much attention in research investigations. Now, a new study published in EMBO Molecular Medicine details how one CMR, in particular, could be useful for treating age-related diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease. The research team was led by Oliver Kepp and Guido Kroemer at the French Medical Research Council (INSERM).
CRMs are unique in their ability to mimic the anti-aging effects of fasting, without acting having to drastically change your lifestyle. These substances work because they induce cells into autophagy, a process that happens naturally during fasting in which cells stop the growth and begin to repurpose their own waste, thus clearing toxins and undesirable proteins. Some substances, such as spermidine and resveratrol have been shown to be correlated with human longevity and reduced cardiovascular and cancer-related mortality.
In order to find this new substance, the research team analyzed 200 compounds in the same class of CRMs as spermidine and resveratrol. While previous studies have proven the anti-aging effects of CRMs in species such as yeast, worms, and mice, the field is still emerging and lacks much research in humans. This study, comparable to past ones, has faced similar limitations.
In their analysis, the team found that an agent called 3,4-dimethoxy chalcone (3,4-DC) was the most effective at inducing autophagy in a way that is not toxic to cells. They conducted these tests on rat and human cell cultures, and later on living mice. While they have still yet to test 3,4-DC in human trials, they found that the agent “protects against myocardial infarction and that it reduces the growth of tumors in the context of certain chemotherapeutic agents,” according to Science Daily.
“Altogether, our results suggest that 3,4‐DC is a novel CRM with a previously unrecognized mode of action,” write the authors. Furthermore, explains Science Daily, “The study is a proof of principle that the researchers' approach to testing substances in cell culture is a fast and efficient way to identify new CRM candidates with diverse modes of action.”