Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Slowing the ageing process – it’s in your genes

Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Slowing the ageing process – it’s in your genes

Imagine being able to take a drug that can reduce the rate at which you age. Research by Massey University senior lecturer in genetics Dr Austen Ganley is making this dream one step closer to reality.

A new study, published in the prestigious scientific journal Current Biology, provides evidence that aging works through a special set of genes that everyone has - the rDNA genes.

Dr Ganley was part of an international team, led by Dr Takehiko Kobayashi from the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima, Japan. The team found that by improving the stability of the rDNA genes, which are usually quite unstable, they could extend the lifespan of baker’s yeast, a model system for studying cell aging.

“This work is exciting because it shows that rDNA instability is a new factor in aging,” says Dr Ganley.

The researchers set out to understand how the Sir2 gene reduces aging in yeast. Sir2 genes shot to prominence as potential human anti-aging genes with the finding that resveratrol, a component of red wine, activates them. However, subsequent research has found that resveratrol doesn’t extend lifespan in mammals.

The yeast Sir2 gene controls rDNA stability, but also has many other targets in the cell. The breakthrough came when the scientists found a way to separate Sir2’s effect on the rDNA from its other effects. This allowed them to show that Sir2’s anti-aging effect comes exclusively through stabilisation of the rDNA genes.

“This is significant,” says Dr Ganley, “because in humans there are seven Sirtuins (the equivalent of the Sir2 gene), and they all behave very differently to the yeast Sir2 gene. In contrast, the rDNA genes are very similar between yeast and humans, therefore rDNA gene instability may be the common factor in aging across life.”

Professor Kobayashi originally proposed a role for rDNA instability in aging five years ago, but unequivocal support for this theory has been lacking until now. These new results suggest that finding a way to artificially improve rDNA gene stability may delay the aging process in humans too.

However, Dr Ganley cautions that the role of the rDNA genes in human aging still needs to be clarified.

“Although we know human rDNA genes are unstable, we don’t know if this instability affects lifespan. Finding this out is the next critical step, and the challenge lies in doing these experiments with human cells, which are more difficult to work with than yeast.”

Dr Ganley and Professor Kobayashi will publish an update of this rDNA aging theory in a special “Cell aging and death” issue of the scientific journal FEMS Yeast Research early next year.

This study is a part of Dr Ganley’s research program being carried out at the Albany campus into the effects of the rDNA genes, and is supported by the Marsden Fund. He is also interested in the involvement of the rDNA genes in other biological processes, such as cancer and chromosome inheritance.

Dr. Ganley says that this work highlights the developments in biological research at the Albany campus during his six years with Massey.

“There has been a real focus on bringing high calibre researchers with diverse research interests to the Albany campus. This has made the institute a great place to learn from experts in a variety of fields. Importantly, innovation and sharing of ideas in research and teaching are really valued at Albany,” he says. “This is reflected in the development of the interdisciplinary Bachelor of Natural Sciences degree, as well as the establishment this year of a genetics major at Albany.”

The link to the article in Cell Biology can be found here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982213008713

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Scoop Business: NZ Dollar Falls To 3-Year Low As Investors Favour Greenback

The New Zealand dollar fell to its lowest in more than three years as investors sold euro and bought US dollars, weakening other currencies against the greenback. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ Govt Operating Deficit Smaller Than Expected

The New Zealand’s government’s operating deficit was smaller than expected in the first five months of the financial year as a clampdown on expenditure managed to offset a shortfall in the tax-take from last month’s forecast. More>>

ALSO:

0.8 Percent Annually:
NZ Inflation Falls Below RBNZ's Target

New Zealand's annual pace of inflation slowed to below the Reserve Bank's target band in the final three months of the year, giving governor Graeme Wheeler more room to keep the benchmark interest rate lower for longer.More>>

ALSO:

NASA, NOAA: Find 2014 Warmest Year In Modern Record

Since 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere. The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: New Zealand’s Reserve Bank Named Central Bank Of The Year

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s efforts to stifle house price inflation by using new policy tools has seen the institution named Central Bank of the year by Central Banking Publications, a publisher specialising in global central banking practice. More>>

ALSO:

Science Media Centre: Viral Science And Another 'Big Dry'?

"Potentially, if there is no significant rainfall for the next month or so, we could be heading into one of the worst nation-wide droughts we’ve seen for some time," warns NIWA principal climate scientist Dr Andrew Tait. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news