Healthcare: On the Agenda - Drug study offers anti-ageing hope

In a nutshell

A new treatment for a rare disease could help scientists slow the ageing process, according to a study led by Durham University. Researchers investigating progeria, a disorder that causes children to age at up to eight times faster than usual, said they had reversed certain effects that cause sufferers' bodies to degenerate.

The study

Researchers found that by using the drug N-acetyl cysteine they could effectively control DNA damage. The results suggest that the use of N-acetyl cysteine in combination with current drugs might improve the health of children with progeria.

Why is it important?

The study is the first to outline how to limit and repair DNA damage in cells and could provide a model for understanding processes that cause us to age. The findings could have significant benefits, such as reducing the degeneration of some tissues in older age, and could assist health management in countries, including the UK, where average life expectancy is increasing.

PR strategy

The Durham University in-house media team worked to promote the research and drive the news and policy agenda. A press release was distributed under embargo allowing the media time for interviews over two days.

Media coverage

Coverage of the study hit the media on 2 November and extended widely across print, broadcast and online. Media highlights included The Independent, The Sun, Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph.

18 - Number of months to complete the study

78 - Children with progeria across 31 countries*.

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