February 1st, 2011.
The latest findings from The HRI provide clues about how our cells die as we age and how this might contribute to age-related conditions like heart disease. HRI Researcher, Dr Rachael Dunlop, said many diseases associated with ageing including heart disease, have a common link -- a build-up of damaged proteins.
"Proteins are the building blocks of our muscles, cells and tissues, and perform critical roles in keeping our bodies functioning.
"Normally our bodies recognize when proteins are damaged beyond repair and send them for recycling or disposal. But in some age-related conditions such as heart disease, this does not happen effectively".
Dr Dunlop examined how our body processes these damaged proteins, and found they are not effectively removed.
"It has been known for many years that these proteins build-up, but we didn't understand the significant way they contribute to the advancement of the disease and perhaps even the ageing process itself."
The research revealed that cells respond to the build-up of proteins with a process known as "apoptosis" (cell suicide) as a way of protecting nearby tissue from damage.
"This is the first time we've been able to follow the fate of these damaged proteins and measure the impact they ultimately have on cells.
"Damaged proteins like these occur in a wide variety of age-related conditions including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and heart disease, therefore our findings might provide clues for potential therapies for a wide range of age-related conditions".
Dr Dunlop's research is due to be published in Biochemical Journal.
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