Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Portuguese Scientist solves 50 year old puzzle about ageing

in Finantial Times

The ageing process has its roots deep within the cells and molecules that make up our bodies. But the pioneering discovery, made in 1961, that human cells grown in culture themselves display ageing has so far defied satisfactory explanation. Now, the team from Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing and Health have used the combined power of state-of-the-art laboratory techniques and sophisticated mathematical modelling to crack a problem that lies at the heart of understanding not only ageing itself but also how cancer cells escape ageing to wreak their destructive power.

A Portuguese scientist João Passos (the main author from this study) has identified the precise molecular pathway that reacts to internal signals that a cell is in trouble because of damage to its DNA and then responds by triggering a managed shut down of the cell’s ability to divide. This results in loss of the cell’s capacity to support tissue regeneration and repair, which gradually leads to the physical signs of ageing as more and more cells suffer the same fate. However the good news is that the damaged cell is then blocked from becoming cancerous.
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