Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chemical processes that lead to ageing identified

Scientists claim to have taken a step closer to creating an elixir of youth by identifying the chemical processes that lead to ageing.

An international team has found two connected chemical triggers which influence each other and regulate the lifespan of cells, and that manipulating their relative availability in the body can increase longevity and reduce signs of ageing. 

In fact, the study, led by Stanford University, builds on the growing belief that age-related degeneration of tissues or organs or facial skin is an active and deliberate process by the body rather than a gradual failure of tired cells.

The team has found two proteins that seem to directly affect ageing. One known as SIRT6 which protects against cell ageing and the other NF Kappa B  which promotes it, The Daily Telegraph reported.
According to the scientists, individuals naturally have different mixes of substances in their bodies and this is why some people are genetically destined to live longer.

Stanford University's Prof Dr Howard Chang, who led the team, was quoted by the leading British daily as saying: 'There is a genetic process that has to be on, and enforced, in order for ageing to happen.'

'It's possible that those rare individuals who live beyond 100 years have a less-efficient version of this master pathway just as kids with progeria  a genetic ageing disease  may have components of this pathway that are more active.'

In fact, the scientists have based their findings on an experiment on laboratory rodents. It focused on two sets of mice one of which was bred to be deficient of SIRT6, and a second set of elderly mice which had the activity of the NF Kappa B blocked.

They found that the first set aged rapidly and died after just four weeks due to an increase of the NF Kappa B in the system. And, suppressing the latter reversed the ageing process. Similarly in the second set of mice it was found that when NF Kappa was subdued they looked and acted younger.

'It seems an important job of SIRT6 is to restrain NF Kappa B and limit the expression of genes associated with ageing,' Dr Chang wrote in the latest edition of the Cell journal.

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