The multi-billion dollar question is how to intervene in the mechanics of ageing.
Theories of ageing fall into two categories – (i) genetic, hormonal and immunological systems are pre-programmed to decline, (ii) influence of environmental factors like stress, diet & exercise. Ageing isn’t a single process, it’s about the gradual failing of repair mechanisms contributing to an undermining of the body’s ability to repair itself and replace cells.
Nobel Prize winner Dr. Carol W. Greider didn’t set out to find the secrets of healthy aging or a cure for cancer and other serious diseases. But her basic research of the past 25 years, focusing on the structure and function of telomeres and telomerase, has helped point many other researchers toward those goals. Telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences on the ends of chromosomes that seem to help regulate cellular replication; telomerase is an enzyme involved in cell replication and maintenance.
DNA is the part that requires repair. Telomeres, is the protective cap at the end of DNA letters of the chromosomes. It gets shorter every time a cell divides and when eventually reaches a set length, the cell is programmed to stop dividing and die. It acts like the biological clock; therefore, it becomes a good target for anti-ageing intervention.
An enzyme, telomerase widely believed to stop ageing. Many different proteins and a string of RNA make up telomerase. Telomerase enzymes seem to halt the cellular cycle of ageing (to stop the loss of gene information) by giving extra DNA facts to the chromosomes. Telomerase enzymes allow the cells to divide, and allow for cell regeneration. Many scientists are coming to the conclusion that it is possible to reverse aging with the telomerase enzyme in this lifetime!
The other focus of research in human is on key cellular defense proteins called sirtuins. Sirtuin or Sir2 proteins are a class of proteins that have either histone deacetylase or mono-ribosyltransferase activity. Sirtuins regulate important biological pathways in bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes. The name Sir2 comes from the yeast gene ‘Silent mating-type Information Regulation 2’ the gene responsible for cellular regulation in yeast.
Sirtuins have been implicated in influencing aging and regulating transcription, apoptosis and stress resistance, as well as energy efficiency and alertness during low-calorie situations.
Sinclair & Howitz found that, resveratrol, a molecule found in red grapes, did indeed increase the lifespan of yeast by directly stimulating SIR2 activity. Which is now believed can be used as an anti-ageing treatment. Resveratrol was first found in Japanese Knotweed in 1960s and then later discovered in wine gaining widespread attention for its cardio-vascular properties. The chemical structure of resveratrol, facilitates the activation sirtuin gene, which plays a vital role in suppressing DNA instability by repairing damaged DNA. Aging occurs when older cells cannot effectively and perfectly reproduce the DNA in new cells. Resveratrol controls a gene by deacetylation, which activates the sirtuin gene thus affecting longevity.
Resveratrol is available as a supplement. It’s believed to regulate the cholesterol levels and inhibits multiple mechanisms which lead to atherosclerosis. It has anti-diabetic properties, as it controls lipid metabolism and glucose homeostasis. Besides, it is also a good anti-oxidant. Oxidants play a very major role in killing the cells, causing cancer and aging.
So far it has only been used on animals and plants and it is very beneficial for their health. This has made it a hot topic for research on its effects on humans. And the scientists are hopeful that it will be a huge landmark in maximizing health benefits for humans as well.
Expanding life span isn’t simply a case of halting ageing, because ageing itself isn’t a scientifically recognized cause of death. Rather, it’s age-related diseases, such as cancer, stroke and heart disease.
Source by Ray T Knudget