06 October 2023

Scientists have figured out how to reverse aging

South Korean scientists have developed organic molecules that selectively target receptors overexpressed in the membranes of aging cells.

Scientists at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea said they have developed an effective and targeted senolytic therapy. Senolytics (senolytics from senile - senile and lytic - lysing, destroying) are a class of anti-aging drugs whose distinguishing feature is their ability to selectively initiate the death of senescent cells.

Researchers have developed organic molecules that can selectively target receptors overexpressed in the membranes of senescent cells. By working with higher levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in old cells, these molecules promoted the formation of disulfide bonds and oligomers that bind together.

Simply put, the self-assembly of this oligomer forms a protein-like alpha-helix structure. It successfully binds to the mitochondrial membranes of aging cells, disrupting the cell and causing it to self-destruct. Only senescent cells are vulnerable to this stealthy attack. Unlike healthy cells, they are characterized by poor mitochondrial membrane integrity.

This peptide senolytic was tested for age-related yellow spot degeneration in a mouse model. The results were promising: scientists observed a significant reduction in key markers of senescent cells after the senescent retinal pigment epithelium was targeted and destroyed by the senolytic. The scientists noted a marked improvement in visual function in aged mice.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
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