Revisiting Skulachev's Laboratory

You might recall I posted on the work of Skulachev back in 2006, lamenting the language barrier that causes interesting Russian research to fail to appear in the popular science press. A high level view of the research in question:

The life time of such mice increased by one third on average as compared to that of the reference group mice. Even more demonstrative are experiments with mutant rats, where accelerated ageing - progeria - was observed. SkQ prolonged their life span by three times, besides, it cured them from a large number of senile diseases. They include infarctions, strokes, osteoporosis, hemogram abnomality, reproductive system disorders, behavior change, visual impairment.


Instead of gene therapy, Skulachev's group has found a viable biochemical strategy for effectively localizing ingested antioxidants in the mitochondria; clever.

Skulachev's past results appear to lead to similar life span extension in mice to the work of Rabinovitch in gene engineering antioxidant catalase into mitochondria. All this adds to the general weight of evidence suggesting that antioxidants are spectacularly useless unless carefully directed in our biochemistry. Of all the places you can target antioxidants, it seems that the mitochondria is the most effective discovered to date: not too surprising considering the role of mitochondria in oxidative damage related to aging.

Your mitochondria are a source of a whole lot of biochemical trouble as the years go by. Damaged mitochondria proliferate in some cells and, like damaged factories, pollute those cell with excess reactive oxygen species and free radicals produced as metabolic byproducts. Each damaged cell then tries to maintain itself by exporting more reactive oxygen species and free radicals from its cell membrane structures, spreading the damaging pollution far and wide in the body.

I noticed a more recent paper from Skulachev while meandering through PubMed today:

A biochemical approach to the problem of aging: "megaproject" on membrane-penetrating ions. The first results and prospects.

Antioxidants specifically addressed to mitochondria have been studied for their ability to decelerate aging of organisms. For this purpose, a project has been established with participation of several research groups from Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology and some other Russian research institutes as well as two groups from the USA and Sweden, with support by the "Mitotechnology" company founded by "RAInKo" company (O. V. Deripaska and Moscow State University). This paper summarizes the first results of the project and estimates its prospects.


In mammals, the effect of SkQs on aging is accompanied by inhibition of development of such age-related diseases as osteoporosis, involution of thymus, cataract, retinopathy, etc. ... Thus, it seems reasonable to perform clinical testing of SkQ preparations as promising drugs for treatment of age-related and some other severe diseases of human and animals.

Investment and further outside scientific collaboration are afoot: it looks like we'll be hearing more of this approach in the years to come.