Did science just find the so-called "fountain of youth' and a way to slow down the aging process?
Scientists at Nottingham University have discovered an enzyme that can be used to slow the process of aging, a new study claims.
The protein, discovered by Dr. Lisa Chakrabarti and her team is an enzyme that increases in age due to the chemical activity taking place within it. However, when you isolate the mitochondria, which are the batteries of the brain and muscle cells, then what you see is increased quantities of this protein or enzyme being produced.
"We looked at a young brain with neurodegeneration, this is something connected with diseases of old age, such as Alzheimer's. We saw that in this diseased young brain the mitochondria also have higher levels of the protein. Finally, we gave doses of this protein to microscopic worms and we found they had a shorter lifespan which was shortest with the highest doses of the protein. This finding means that we can now look at chemicals to stop the activity of this protein, some of which are already used as drugs, for example in glaucoma therapy. Stopping the increased activity of the protein will reduce its age related effect which we now know is bad for the cell batteries," Dr. Chakrabarti told Sputnik.
The implications of this finding are huge. Cell energy has always been connected with aging and now scientists believe they are able to fix this.
The next step would be to measure the levels of this protein in people who reach a certain age. Once rising levels are seen, scientists and doctors can then consider a reduction treatment therapy.
One question on some people's minds is whether something like this could replace cosmetic surgery.
Millions of people throughout the world undergo surgery in order to maintain their youthful look. The cosmetic surgery industry is worth billions and many willingly and happily go under the knife in order to help preserve what time takes away.
"It depends what people want from cosmetic therapy. I think most people just want to live a healthy life with the ability to be independent mentally and physically into old age. This is what we are looking to promote," Dr. Chakrabarti told Sputnik.
There is also the risk that people may abuse the treatment and use it if they don't really need to have it. However, more research needs to be done around the findings.
"We don't really know enough about this to know what would happen if people who didn't need to change things tried to. The protein governs a very important cellular process so if you had normal levels and then tried to lower them, other things could probably malfunction. A case of 'more research is needed," Dr. Chakrabarti said.