Today Nature: after 30 years of hard work, we are one step closer to longevity medicine.

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 Today Nature: after 30 years of hard work, we are one step closer to longevity medicine.


The study of nature has brought us closer to longevity medicine (photo source: IMS). Lets turn the clock back to 1985. In December, Professor ElizabethBlackburn from the University of California at Berkeley (UCBerkeley) and her PhD student, CarolGreider, found an enzyme called telomerase. Telomere is the DNA repeats at the end of chromosomes, which shorten after each cell division. Its like the countdown to life. Once the telomeres are depleted, the cells will die. But the two women scientists discovered that telomerase could prolong the telomere and make the cells infinite replication possible. The paper, published in the top academic journal Cell, is less than 10 pages, but it has created the human passion for immortality. In recognition of this breakthrough finding, they also shared the 2009 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine with Dr. JackSzostak. The discoverer of telomerase was awarded the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine in 2009 (photo source: Nobel Foundation). Over the past 30 years, although countless people want to develop elixir based on this discovery, the current success story is still zero. A major bottleneck behind this is our inadequate understanding of the complex structure of telomerase. We only know that telomerase has a RNA skeleton with many proteins surrounding it. In addition, we know nothing about it. In order to analyze the structure of telomerase, Professor KathleenCollins from University of California at Berkeley has also spent 26 years in his youth. After numerous failures, together with Professor EvaNogales, their efforts finally returned. In the past, human telomerase was the clearest passport photo with a resolution of only 30. Today, the team has increased the resolution to 7-8. This is the most high-definition human telomerase structure so far, and it is the first time that human beings can categorically answer what telomerase looks like. This is the highest clear telomerase structure ever obtained by humans (photo source: KellyNguyen, UCBerkeley). We have observed that there are 11 protein subunits of telomerase, said Dr. KellyNguyen, the first author of the study. When I first saw these subunits, I was happy to realize, God, God, this is the way they are assembled! The secret of success lies in the struggle of scientific research personnel, as well as the development of science and technology. First, Dr. Nguyens dexterous hands made her purified the high quality telomerase, which was the basis for success; secondly, the cryo electron microscope technology that won the Nobel Prize last year provided us with an unprecedented tool. The elucidation of this high-definition structure is inseparable from the assistance of another Nobel Research (source: Nobel Foundation). Some might say that analyzing the structure of telomerase is cool, but whats the use of it? Professor Collins says this beautiful structure enables us to understand the underlying causes of the disease. Because of the gene mutation, telomere length of some patients is only 25% of that of normal people. They often live at least 20 years old, and their life span is very short. Using the analytical structure, we know that this is due to gene mutations that destroy the interactions between key proteins. What is more exciting is that this structure may enable us to find drugs that prolong life. Through large throughput screening, we are expected to find small molecules that can activate telomerase activity without side effects. We can even imagine this kind of future: when we were 80 or 90, the cells in our body were still full of vitality as they were more than 20 years old. We look forward to the early arrival of longevity drugs. The source of this article is editor of academic latitude and longitude: Hou Wei Cheng _NT4124 Some might say that analyzing the structure of telomerase is cool, but whats the use of it? Professor Collins says this beautiful structure enables us to understand the underlying causes of the disease. Because of the gene mutation, telomere length of some patients is only 25% of that of normal people. They often live at least 20 years old, and their life span is very short. Using the analytical structure, we know that this is due to gene mutations that destroy the interactions between key proteins. What is more exciting is that this structure may enable us to find drugs that prolong life. Through large throughput screening, we are expected to find small molecules that can activate telomerase activity without side effects. We can even imagine this kind of future: when we were 80 or 90, the cells in our body were still full of vitality as they were more than 20 years old.