Tests on worms and mice have shown that intestinal bacteria transforms a molecule contained in pomegranates to dramatically slow down the aging of muscles.
RESENDING WITH CORRECTED NAME FOR SOUNDBITES - PROFESSOR JOHAN AUWERX, NOT PATRICK AEBISCHER, AS EARLIER STATED INTRO: Tests on worms and mice have shown that intestinal bacteria transforms a molecule contained in pomegranates to dramatically slow down the ageing of muscles. Scientists from Swiss research institute EPFL have established a start-up company, Amazentis SA, to develop their research into a medicine to help counteract age related muscle decline. Sharon Reich reports. STORY: A pomegranate a day won't keep the doctor away. But scientists from Swiss research institute EPFL say they have shown that the superfood may help counteract some of the effects of ageing. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR JOHAN AUWERX, EPFL, SAYING: "Work in our laboratory discovered a totally new mechanism about how the substances in this fruit work and actually counteract ageing and ageing related disease. It's totally new in the fact that the mechanism exposed is not related to any of the old and known anti-ageing mechanisms but depends on a new mechanism that is called mitophagy." As we age the process of mitography - or cell renewal - slows down. This causes dysfunctional mitochondria which leads to problems such as muscle weakness. Aebischer says that when pomegranate seeds are ingested a microbe inside them interacts with a bacteria living in our gut to form what's called urolithin A, which seems to jumpstart the cell renewal process. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR JOHAN AUWERX, EPFL, SAYING: "Our work showed for the first time the importance of mitophagy in the ageing process. And in addition we provided the compound contained in a natural product, the pomegranate, that could activate mitophagy and hence curb age related disease such as frailty, sarcopenia or metabolic diseases linked with ageing." In lab tests worms exposed to Urolithin A lived 50 percent longer, while the endurance of mice improved by 40 percent while running. The pomegranate is one of several so-called 'superfoods' to be dubbed 'superfads' by many in the medical profession, who prefer to promote a balanced diet. The team hopes tests on humans, currently underway, could help change that opinion.