Anti-Ageing Drugs: a Reality Soon?
2009 Noble prize for Medicine is backed by three researchers- Dr. Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Dr. Carol W. Greider and Dr. Jack W. Szostak. Their research explained the process of ageing. An international team of researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, London, now report that anti-ageing drugs would be a reality soon. This article tries to gain further insight.
Basics to appreciate the research finding:
The bunch of instructions inside the cells, which run the functions of our entire body are called Chromosomes. They are made up of chemical molecules called Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). A single instruction is called a gene.
Cell Division is an essential process required for normal function of our body. During this process, Chromosomes need to get replicated properly from the original parent cell to the new daughter cell after cell division. In this way, the daughter cell possesses a duplicate copy of the instructions of the parent cell. It is a piece of DNA molecules, chemically.
Research of the Noble Laureates: The Noble prize winners explained how the process of ageing takes place. Every time the cell divides, the process of duplication of the instructions from parent cell to daughter cell is not complete. Especially, the tail ends of the instruction set get chopped off while getting duplicated.
The Process of Ageing: Telomeres are the DNA molecule patterns that form the tail ends of the chromosomes.They do not contain any instructions, but are meant to keep the whole structure of chromosomes (the instructions) intact. An enzyme (chemical substance naturally found in the body) called Telomerase, copies the entire chromosome without missing the end portion, Telomeres. But Telomeres naturally become shorter as a cell divides. As a result, the Telomerase cannot completely copy the ends of the chromosomes.The Telomeres become so short after a time that they stop functioning.This in turn, stops the whole process of cell division. It causes ageing in humans.
Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine: The study involved 86 people from American Ashkenazi Jewish Community. The average age of the group members was 97. It was found that all of them possessed a gene which prevented cells from ageing. The children of these people were found to contain higher levels of the enzyme Telomerase.
Knowledge Gained from the recent research on Ageing:
- The Noble Laureates found that the primary job of enzyme Telemerase is to copy the entire set of chromosomes, intact.
- Researchers from this study are now convinced that Telemerase also has the ability to protect the Telomeres from getting shorter.
- If the enzyme is boosted, it will carry out the duplication process of chromosomes successfully.
- This will lead to perfect completion of cell division process.
- It is an incomplete process of cell division which causes cells to die midway.
- Researchers claim that anti-ageing drugs would be developed soon.
- The chemical components in these drugs will raise the level of enzyme Telemerase, to protect the cells from dying. In this way, ageing can be conquered.