Genetic breakthrough could mark farewell to aging
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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/1/2015 (4 years ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
Slowing the human ageing process, in addition to solving the riddles behind such diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease may lie in the way the body's genetic code holds itself. Scientists studying a rare disorder known as Werner syndrome have discovered a genetic fault that causes people with the condition to age prematurely.
Researchers suggest that the deterioration of these genetic bundles may play a role in the aging process.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The fault leads to tightly packed bundles of DNA in human cells, known as heterochromatin to become disorganized.
Researchers suggest that the deterioration of these genetic bundles may play a role in the ageing process.
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Researchers will now investigate to see whether there may be ways of slowing or reversing the process and see if this can have an impact on human health in old age.
According to scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, and the Chinese Academy of Science, environmental stress could include the aging process, smoking, pollution, traumatic brain injury or excessive alcohol consumption.
They claim it is also possible that disruption of the heterochromatin may play a role in age-related diseases like some cancers, diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease, although they have not expanded on these claims.
Cells were taken from patients suffering from Werner syndrome, also known as adult progeria. The condition leads to advanced ageing in a brief period of time.
"Our findings show that the gene mutation that causes Werner syndrome results in the disorganization of heterochromatin, and that this disruption of normal DNA packaging is a key driver of aging," Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a geneticist at the Salk Institute says.
Belamonte, who was one of the study's lead authors, added, "More broadly, it suggests that accumulated alterations in the structure of heterochromatin may be a major underlying cause of cellular ageing.
"This begs the question of whether we can reverse these alterations - like remodeling an old house or car - to prevent, or even reverse, age-related declines and diseases."
Werner syndrome is a rare disorder that occurs in one in every 100,000 births and tends to appear once people reach puberty. Those who suffer from the condition show growth retardation, wrinkling, premature graying of hair, cardiovascular problems, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some rare cancers.
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