Historical Background of Geroprotectors, their applications and results

From the evolution standpoint, modern humans have entered a stage of increased advanced aging as the proportion of people in older age groups continues to grow. The limit of human life expectancy is now being recorded at 110-120 years with a maximum reliable life expectancy going as high as 122 years. However, the main task of modern science is not to increase the human life span alone, but to increase the average human work/productivity period. Therefore, scientists are researching medications and other methods to increase human work productivity. The increase in vitality resource and increased working life span will enable an increase in the working age population, which is extremely important in terms of socio-economic problems. The current techniques that enhance quality of life, reliable and scientifically valid as they are, include the following: caloric restriction, use of antioxidants and vitamins, telomerase activators and other ones too numerous to mention. One of the most important achievements over the past 20 years was the development of peptide geroprotectors, i.e. preparations, representing natural and synthetic peptides, which have proven to be highly effective. Their application (so called peptide bioregulation) is one of the most promising fields of the medical therapy. The research, initiated at the Kirov Military Medical Academy, has continued for the past 30 years in the USSR and the Russian Federation. The issue was to find harmless medications that would enhance life expectancy of military personnel (divers, pilots and other service personnel working with life altering occupational exposures). A decision was made by the State Committee on Science and Technology of the USSR, to establish a special research laboratory of bioregulators, headed by the Colonel of the Military Medical Service, Professor V. Kh Khavinson. The results showed that, within 10 years (1980-1990), six preparations were developed to strengthen the immune system, brain, genital system, endocrine system and eye retina. After extensive clinical trials, these preparations were included in the Soviet and Russian Pharmacopoeia. All studies conducted were designated as “classified” but, after publication of the results, the authors were recognized and awarded prizes of the USSR Council of Ministers, the USSR Academy of Sciences. They were, also, assigned extraordinary ranks and honorary title “Honored Inventor of the RF”.

Simultaneously, the N.N.Petrov Research Institute of Oncology (pilot project leader, V. N. Anisimov, president of the Gerontological Society of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Associate member of the Russian Academy of Sciences) launched experiments on the effect of these preparations on life span in laboratory animals. Following years of research, it was shown that some peptide preparations increase mean life span of animals by 20–40% and reduce the incidence of cancers by 2 or 3 times. The results of all these studies have been published in Russian and foreign scientific journals and the preparations have been protected by more than 200 Russian and foreign patents.

Clinical trials of preventive use of peptide preparations in different age groups of people were held and the use of peptides as a means of disease prevention in OJSC “Gazprom”, with results published by the Board in 2000-2001 (over 11,000 people), in OJSC “AvtoVAZ” (over 400 people), in OJSC “Tatenergo” (over 400 people) showing the reduction in morbidity by 2-3 times. Equally important was a 15-year clinical study in elderly people (65-70 years old) conducted at the Institute of Gerontology of Ukraine (Kiev), led by the academicians of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine D. F. Chebotarev and O. V. Korkushko. By use of the medicinal peptide preparations application to normalize the endocrine and immune system, within 15 years, results showed a decrease in mortality rates in the group treated with preparations by 45% as compared to the control group. Mortality reduction was achieved by improving the immune system, brain, endocrine system, increasing bone density, normalization of melatonin level. Clinical studies were conducted simultaneously during 6 years in elderly patients (75-80 years old) in the Saint Petersburg Institute of Bioregulation and Gerontology and at the House for War and Labor Veterans (13, Vyazovaya Str., St. Petersburg). During the 6 years following the application of preparations, a significant decrease in the mortality of patients was duly noted. Results of these studies were published in two joint monographs (Publisher: Nauka Publishers, Saint Petersburg), and awarded the prizes of AMS of Ukraine and of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. V. Kh Khavinson was elected an academician of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine, specialty “Gerontology.” The results of these studies were also presented at the European (Italy, Bologna, 2011) and the World (Korea, Seoul, 2013) congresses. Thus, the world leadership in the development of effective geroprotective preparations belongs to Russia. It was the basis for the election in 2011 of V. Kh Khavinson as the President of the International association of gerontology and geriatrics - European Region, which includes more than 40 national Gerontological Societies of Europe.

The studies on the effect of peptides on the proliferation and differentiation of cells, including stem cells along with the effect of peptides on the expression (activity) of different genes and protein synthesis are currently being conducted at the Saint Petersburg Institute of Bioregulation and Gerontology. Also there were launched studies on interaction of peptides and DNA at the level of physical and chemical research. These processes of molecular biology underlie the development of living matter and affect the cell resource and longevity of all organisms. The results have proven that the interaction of several genes and peptides are the controlling factor for the life of the cell.

These studies are currently being conducted in collaboration with leading scientists in Europe, America and Russia.

It is certain that the introduction of peptide geroprotective bioregulators in medical and social practice, as means of preventing age-related pathologies, can bring tangible effect for improving the quality of human life of different ages.