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

 

Prefu Roundup: Forecasts Revised, Surplus Intact

The National government heads into the election with its Budget surplus target broadly intact, delivering a set of economic and fiscal forecasts marginally revised from May to reflect weaker commodity prices and a lower tax take. More>>

ALSO:

Convention Centre: Major New SkyCity Hotel And Laneway For Auckland

Today SKYCITY Entertainment Group Limited revealed plans to build a new hotel and pedestrian laneway of bars, restaurants and boutique shopping on land it owns in the Nelson and Hobson Streets block, expanding the SKYCITY Entertainment Precinct. More>>

ALSO:

Igniting The Spark: Bringing The Digital Enabler To Life

Changing a name is, relatively speaking, the easy part of a re-invention. Changing a culture, getting all the ducks in a row, turning yourself inside-out to become customer-inspired is a much bigger challenge. More>>

ALSO:

Ebola And NZ: Targeted Screening At Airport But Risk Low

The risk of any cases of Ebola in New Zealand remains very low, but health and border authorities are well prepared... anyone arriving in New Zealand who in the last three weeks has visited countries affected will be screened for symptoms of the disease. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Brewer Seeking Crowd-Funding Cancels Shareholders’ Dividends

Shareholders in Renaissance Brewing company, the first business to seek equity through crowd-funding in New Zealand, have cancelled their claim on $147,000 of accumulated earnings “to make Renaissance a more attractive investment opportunity.” More>>

ALSO:

It's Spark Now:
Why Telecom Wanted To Change

New Zealand led the world when Chorus demerged from Telecom. It gave us a telecommunications industry structure where the network is completely separated from the products and services it delivers. The changes brought about a new market dynamic and it dramatically changed Telecom’s role. More>>

ALSO:

Glass Half Empty: Dairy Prices Fall To Lowest Since 2012

Dairy product prices slumped to the lowest level since October 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, paced by whole milk powder and cheddar. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

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