The key to slowing the aging process may be a protein identified by University of Nottingham researchers in energy units of the cell, the mitochondria. The result, published on Aging, can pave the way to new drugs able to slow the effects of aging and the advance of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Researchers led by Lisa Chakrabarti have focused on a family of proteins - the carbonic anhydrase - found in the mitochondria, that is, the 'batteries' cells that convert oxygen breathed energy needed by the body to function. They saw that the carbon anidrase protein was present in greater amounts and more active in the brains of middle-aged people, and in samples collected from young people with the onset of degeneration. The next step will be to identify the best molecules of acting on this protein and studying the effect of potential inhibitors.
The aging is reversible, made rejuvenate elderly mice
Elderly mice were rejuvenated and their life has been lengthened of 30% by reprogramming their cells. The same technique has been shown to also work on human cells in test tubes. It is the first time it is shown that the aging process is not only one direction and that is not irreversible. Published in the journal Cell, the result is due to the group led by Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. '' We demonstrate - said Belmonte - that the aging process could be reversed ''. In the experiment the researchers used a 'reduced' version of the technique introduced in 2006 by the Japanese Shinya Yamanaka to return 'girls' adult cells and based on a cocktail of four genes, called Oct-3/4, Sox2, c- Myc, and Klf4. The cells thus obtained are pluripotent, ie able to follow different directions in the development, and are called stem cells induced plupotenti (Ips).
Discovered the aging timer
Discovered the molecular aging 'timer': it is the Tzap protein, which binds the ends of the chromosomes of cells by acting as a real 'barber' to adjust the length. The discovery, that will be able 'to help control the cell degeneration processes associated with age and tumors, is published in the journal Science by the Italian group Eros Lazzerini Denchi, the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. The ends' of chromosomes, called telomeres, ''representing the cell '' watch, says Lazzerini Denchi. ''We are born with telomeres of a certain length and, every time the cell divides, the telomeres shorten a bit '. When they become too short, the cell can not 'more' divide'' and so begins' the aging process. ''This cell watch - emphasizes the expert - must be finely tuned'', for two reasons: on the one hand, it must allow a sufficient number of cell divisions to ensure the development of the different tissues of the organism and their renewal; on the other hand, however, it must avoid just such an uncontrolled proliferation, typical of cancer cells.
The key to everything is the Tzap protein, ''which determines the maximum length of telomeres - says Lazzerini Denchi - allowing the cell to proliferate, but not too''. As a thoughtful barber, Tzap binds to telomeres which are a bit too long and regulates them, giving a 'trim' only when necessary to avoid paving the way to cancer.
Discovered molecules against cell aging
Identified for the first time a class of specific molecules to block the signals that lead to cellular aging caused by the deterioration of telomeres, DNA sequences positioned at the end of their chromosomes with the function to maintain the integrity of the DNA content in the chromosomes themselves.