Study finds protein linked to ageing

The study led by Dr Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, suggests ageing may not simply be a gradual wearing out of cells.

Instead, it may be an active biological mechanism — one that might be tinkered with to address age-related diseases.

“I think a lot of people in the past have assumed that the ageing of cells and of individuals was just a matter of everything running down,” Collins said in an interview.

“What we are learning at the cellular level... is that is not right,” said Collins, whose study appears in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Scientists for several years have been working to understand the key biological processes that trigger ageing in hopes of discovering new drugs that could delay or prevent age-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Based on the study by Collins and colleagues at the National Human Genome Research Institute, it appears that the same toxic protein that drives the premature ageing disorder progeria plays a key role in normal cell ageing, Collins said.

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