Sep 112017

Nature Communications/Anil Rana
Fruit flies’ mitochondria (in green) at 10 days (top left), 28 days (top right) and 37 days old (both bottom images). At bottom right, the mitochondria have returned to a more youthful state after UCLA biologists increased the fly’s level of a protein called Drp1.

Cellular time machine’ could eventually benefit humans, too

UCLA biologists have developed an intervention that serves as a cellular time machine — turning back the clock on a key component of aging.

In a study on middle-aged fruit flies, the researchers substantially improved the animals’ health while significantly slowing their aging. They believe the technique could eventually lead to a way to delay the onset of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease and other age-related diseases in humans.

The approach focuses on mitochondria, the tiny power generators within cells that control the cells’ growth and determine when they live and die. Mitochondria often become damaged with age, and as people grow older, those damaged mitochondria tend to accumulate in the brain, muscles and other organs. When cells can’t eliminate the damaged mitochondria, those mitochondria can become toxic and contribute to a wide range of age-related diseases, said David Walker, a UCLA professor of integrative biology and physiology, and the study’s senior author.

Reed Hutchinson/UCLA
David Walker

In the new research, Walker and his colleagues found that as fruit flies reach middle age — about one month into their two-month lifespan — their mitochondria change from their original small, round shape.

“We think the fact that the mitochondria become larger and elongated impairs the cell’s ability to clear the damaged mitochondria,” Walker said. “And our research suggests dysfunctional mitochondria accumulate with age, rather than being discarded.”

The study, published Sept. 6 in the journal Nature Communications, reports that the UCLA scientists removed the damaged mitochondria by breaking up enlarged mitochondria into smaller pieces — and that when they did, the flies became more active and more energetic and had more endurance. Following the treatment, female flies lived 20 percent longer than their typical lifespan, while males lived 12 percent longer, on average.

The research highlights the importance of a protein called Drp1 in aging. At least in flies and mice, levels of Drp1 decline with age.

To break apart the flies’ mitochondria, Anil Rana, a UCLA project scientist and the study’s lead author, increased their levels of Drp1. This enabled the flies to discard the smaller, damaged mitochondria, leaving only healthy mitochondria. Drp1 levels were increased for one week starting when the flies were 30 days old.

At essentially the same time, Rana demonstrated that the flies’ Atg1 gene also plays an essential role in turning back the clock on cellular aging. He did this by “turning off” the gene, rendering the flies’ cells unable to eliminate the damaged mitochondria. This proved that Atg1 is required to reap the procedure’s anti-aging effects: While Drp1 breaks up enlarged mitochondria, the Atg1 gene is needed to dispose of the damaged ones.

“It’s like we took middle-aged muscle tissue and rejuvenated it to youthful muscle,” said Walker, a member of UCLA’s Molecular Biology Institute. “We actually delayed age-related health decline. And seven days of intervention was sufficient to prolong their lives and enhance their health.”

One specific health problem the treatment addressed was the onset of leaky intestines, which previous research by Walker’s team found commonly occurs about a week before fruit flies die. Subsequent research in other laboratories has determined that an increase in intestines’ permeability is a hallmark of aging in worms, mice and monkeys. In the UCLA study, the condition was delayed after flies were given more Drp1.

Fruit flies are often used for studies on aging because their short lifespan enables scientists to track the effects of specific treatments within a manageable period of time, and many of the features of aging at the cellular level are similar to those of humans. In addition, scientists have identified all of the fruit fly’s genes and know how to switch individual ones on and off.

Walker hopes that a technique similar to the one his team developed for fruit files could eventually help humans by slowing aging and delaying aging-related diseases. He said the fact that the new approach was effective even after a short time is especially significant because long-term use of nearly any drug can have harmful side effects in humans.

Walker said one of the long-term goals of his research is to develop pharmaceuticals that would mimic the effects of Drp1, in order to extend people’s lives and lengthen what he calls people’s “health spans,” meaning the number of healthy years in their lives.

Courtesy of Anil Rana
Anil Rana

In another part of the experiment, also involving middle-aged fruit flies, the scientists turned off a protein called Mfn that enables mitochondria to fuse together into larger pieces. Doing so also extended the flies’ lives and improved their health.

“You can either break up the mitochondria with Drp1 or prevent them from fusing by inactivating Mfn,” Rana said. “Both have the same effect: making the mitochondria smaller and extending lifespan.”

Drp1’s function in animals was discovered by Alexander van der Bliek, a UCLA professor of biological chemistry, in the early 2000s.

Learn more: UCLA biologists slow aging, extend lifespan of fruit flies


The Latest on: Cellular time machine
  • Time machine for cancer diagnosis
    on September 13, 2017 at 10:33 am

    The blue big bodies are the cell nuclei. Figure 1-1. FISH test ... 2014) In the last 10 years, different approaches were used to reduce the time it takes to get a diagnosis and its cost. One of them is a combination of engineering and biology: automate ... […]

  • Skyworks Powers Machine-to-Machine Applications with Industry Leading Cellular Engines
    on September 13, 2017 at 9:00 am

    all the time,” said Carlos Bori, vice president of sales and marketing for Skyworks. “We’re excited to leverage our scale and technology leadership in mobile to accelerate the adoption of high speed cellular functionality in a growing number of new ... […]

  • Brain-Machine Interface Isn't Sci-Fi Anymore
    on September 13, 2017 at 4:00 am

    Reardon and some of his browser team compatriots began a startup focused on wireless internet ... This requires a combination of coding, machine learning, and neuroscience. For some applications, the first time someone uses the system, he or she ... […]

  • ‘Cellular Time Machine’ Slows Aging, Extends Lifespan
    on September 13, 2017 at 1:00 am

    A team of biologists from UCLA have developed an intervention that serves as a cellular time machine — turning back the clock on a key component of aging. In a study on middle-aged fruit flies, the researchers substantially improved the animals’ health ... […]

  • iPhone time machine: Take a look at this revolutionary evolution
    on September 12, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    All three feature wireless charging. The iPhone X boasts a bigger screen with no home button and now uses "Face ID" to unlock the phone and perform authentication functions. This latest Apple product will cost you at least $999. […]

  • Apple announces iPhone X with Face ID and Qi wireless charging, ditching home button for facial recognition
    on September 12, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    At a media event today Apple released its new iPhone X device, which features wireless ... machine learning algorithms” in order to recognize users’ faces. Apple’s Phil Schiller explained that the device includes a neural engine that relies on real ... […]

  • Apple unveils iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus with wireless charging
    on September 12, 2017 at 4:12 am

    The new models support wireless charging through their new glass backs. This is the first time Apple is unveiling three new iPhones ... In the 8 Plus, you can compose a photo and the cameras sense the scene. Machine learning reads the subject and ... […]

  • The secret to a long life? A protein that acts as a cellular 'time machine' is found to extend the lifespan of fruit flies by 20%
    on September 6, 2017 at 1:55 am

    Biologists have turned back the clock on ageing in the cells of fruit flies, by increasing levels of a protein called Drp1. This cellular time machine was found to lengthen the life-span of the insects by between 10 and 20 per cent. Experts hope to develop ... […]

  • Yamanaka invented cell time machine
    on October 16, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Dr. Shinya Yamanaka invented a time machine. In the simplest of terms, that's how he and his colleagues sometimes describe their work. They take full-grown cells from humans and they regress them - they send them back in time, to their earliest, embryonic ... […]

  • Technology Time Machine 2012: Networks in 2020 Will Be "Cloudier"
    on May 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    If the line-up of experts in the “Networks Supporting Future Applications” panel at the IEEE Technology Time Machine Symposium here in Dresden agreed on anything, it’s that, particularly in the wireless space, bandwidth pipes need to be bigger ... […]

via Google News and Bing News

Other Interesting Posts

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: