If there is one thing in life that every adult wants, it’s probably to be young again. Not just to feel young, but to have boundless energy, youthful skin, and be at the peak of physical health. Sadly, however, we all age eventually—it is a phenomenon in which a cell’s ability to divide and grow deteriorates as it gets older, causing degeneration of the body and senile diseases. This basic fact has driven humans to look for a way to reverse the aging process, to identify the substances that control aging and analyze the mechanisms of how they work.
This dream may soon become a reality, as researchers at the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) have discovered substances that can induce reversible aging recovery, further identifying an aging recovery mechanism using these very substances. Truly exciting news.
First, it is important to clarify the definition of “reversible aging” in this context. In a chemical reaction, when two substances are reacting to a specific variable and a product is made, it is deemed a reversible reaction if the reaction can be done in two directions: forwards and reversed. On the other hand, reactions that occur only in one direction are called irreversible reactions. Aging seen in living organisms is commonly seen as an irreversible reaction, proceeding only in one direction. The team at DGIST however, throw away this notion and see aging as reversible and restorable.
In pursuit of challenging this previous way of thinking, DGIST’s research team have been conducting research, searching for factors that could control aging and tried to discover substances that could restore cell division capacity. The fruit of their labor led the team to discover KU-60016, an inhibitor of the ATM protein that is a phosphorylation enzyme and recovers the functions of aging cells through activation of lysosomal functions and induction of cell proliferation.
To provide some context, the degradation of lysosomes and decomposition of a biopolymer such as protein and lipids in the cell lead to cell deterioration with age.
“The significance and implication of this study are that it is possible to reverse the recovery of aging cells by inhibiting and restoring the degradation of lysosomal function. In the future, we will continue to conduct studies that extend the life expectancy of human beings by verifying and validating efficacy and safety through aging animal models,” said DGIST Chair Professor Park SangChul.
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