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New Premature Aging Research Spurs Potential Anti-aging Treatments

Posted: September 21, 2009

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The scientists found that the PYCR1 protein is located in mitochondria, the cell's "powerhouse," providing energy for the cell's consumption. In their experiments, they observed changes in mitochondrial morphology and cell death in the connective tissues of individuals with PYCR1 mutations. To determine the effects of reduced levels of PYCR1 protein, the scientists studied the growth of frog and fish models in which the PYCR1 gene had been experimentally shut off. They found that the mitochondrial function in the animal models' skin was altered, and there was also an increased occurrence of cell death.

"Our findings confirm the significance of mitochondrial function in the aging process," said Reversade. "They also unexpectedly highlight the importance of metabolism as PYCR1 is important in the synthesis of proline, a common amino acid involved in metabolism. Age-defying and anti-wrinkling treatments for common disorders related to aging may also benefit from sustaining proline metabolism."

"We are excited by these findings of Bruno and colleagues, which open up new possibilities in the field of aging and skin research," added Birgit Lane, PhD, a skin biologist and executive director of IMB, one of the research institutes sponsored by Singapore's A*STAR, or Agency for Science, Technology and Research. "The study is a great example of scientific synergy—when clinicians and scientists from around the world come together to share their specialist skills and knowledge, they can discover new insights into complex medical conditions," said Lane. "Rare genetic disorders often provide surprising revelations. Pooling resources and targeting research to find new ways of combating disease—and benefiting people faster—is exactly what we try to do at IMB."

Reversade, a developmental biologist, holds a principal investigator position at IMB and an adjunct faculty position at the National University of Singapore. In previously published papers in such journals as Cell and Nature Cell Biology, he has reported several landmark discoveries explaining how identical twins can be produced from a single embryo. A fellow of the Branco Weiss Foundation, he is the first recipient of an A*STAR Investigatorship, a program that provides competitive and prestigious fellowships to support the next generation of international scientific leaders, offering them funding support for set-up costs and research staff, and access to state-of-the-art scientific equipment and facilities at A*STAR.

Journal reference: Reversade et al. Mutations in PYCR1 cause cutis laxa with progeroid features. Nature Genetics