December 20th, 2011.
Dr Aldwin Suryo Rahmanto from the Free Radical Group has been awarded a young investigator award at the 18th Annual Meeting of the Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.
Aldwin’s work examines the role of free radicals, which are highly reactive, short-lived compounds associated with diseases such as atherosclerosis. In a poster presented at the conference, Aldwin looked at a type of highly reactive oxygen (called “singlet oxygen”) and how it might contribute to tissue damage.
“Most people are aware that antioxidants are good and free radicals are bad. In our tissues, there is a balance between the formation of free radicals and their detoxification by antioxidants,”Aldwin said.
“Although free radicals are a natural by-product of general metabolism, like anything, too much can be bad. Singlet oxygen, formed from oxygen, is an example of a reactive molecule, which can attack antioxidant enzymes which are critical for maintaining healthy tissue. If the process of formation and detoxification of reactive molecules becomes imbalanced, tissue damage can occur, and this process contributes to atherosclerosis”,”
With this in mind, Aldwin has also been looking at another antioxidant known as selenium, which is commonly found is strong-smelling foods such as garlic and in high concentrations in brazil nuts. Selenium is a critical biological trace element, and deficiency has been implicated in numerous diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
In the talk for which Aldwin won his award, he reported that a naturally-occurring form of selenium can detoxify a class of reactive molecules called peroxides. These compounds are produced during the periods of imbalance mentioned above. The ability of selenium to detoxify reactive compounds like peroxides gives us clues as to why a deficiency can contribute to chronic diseases like cancers and heart disease. Even more exciting is the potential for using selenium as a therapy.
It is highly unusual for researchers outside of the US to be recognised with a Young Investigator award at this conference, making Aldwin’s win even more prestigious.
Whilst studying for his PhD, which he received in May 2011 Aldwin published a book with Professor Mike Davies, entitled “Molecular mechanisms of photo-oxidative damage in cells” as well as several peer reviewed papers. A recent review called “Photo-oxidation of proteins” was listed in the top ten most accessed articles for October 2011.
The conference Aldwin attended was held from November 16th – 20th 2011 and covered topics such as oxidative stress, cancer biology and neurodegenerative disease.
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