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IMBB researchers reveal a novel mechanism modulating ageing.

Feb 06, 2007

Research at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, published today in the international scientific journal Nature, revealed a novel molecular mechanism that modulates the process of ageing.

By using the simple nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, IMBB researchers Popi Syntichaki and Kostoula Troulinaki, headed by Nektarios Tavernarakis, have discovered a previously unknown link between a basic cellular process and ageing.

Although ageing is a fundamental biological phenomenon and is experienced by the vast majority of living organisms, it remains poorly understood. Which molecular mechanisms are responsible for cellular and organismal ageing and senescence? How are these mechanisms regulated? With their study, IMBB researchers demonstrate that the cellular process of protein synthesis is intimately coupled with the pace of ageing. Protein synthesis is one of the most energy-demanding cellular processes, consuming almost 50% of the total energy produced by the cell. Downregulation of protein synthesis would generate an energy surplus that now becomes available for investment in mechanisms of cellular repair and maintenance, in turn increasing survival. Indeed, by manipulations that reduce the rate of protein synthesis, IMBB researchers managed to extend the lifespan of the nematode C. elegans significantly. This is the first time that ageing is directly linked with protein synthesis.

Given that the mechanisms governing protein synthesis in higher organisms, including humans, are remarkably similar to those in the nematode, it is highly likely that an analogous association between protein synthesis and ageing is an important longevity determinant in these organisms. Ageing and senescence are complex processes that dramatically impact human health and society. Elucidation of the basic molecular mechanisms underlying the progressive decline in cellular function that accompanies ageing and eventually leads to senescence will have an immediate impact on the design of novel interventions that could reduce or delay age-related deterioration in humans. The novel findings reported by IMBB investigators are anticipated to stir innovative research approaches in this direction.

For more information please contact:
Dr. Nektarios Tavernarakis, Principal Investigator
Tel.: +30 2810 391066
Dr. George Thireos, IMBB Director
Tel.: +30 2810 391109

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