A study conducted by researchers from KAIST e published in the journal Science Advances it is providing new insights into a cellular energy pathway that has been linked to a longer lifespan.
The research of the team KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) it is conducted on human cells and nematodes. It opens up the prospect of anti-aging therapies which, by activating this cellular pathway, can prolong life span.
AMPK (adenosine monophosphate activated protein kinase)
It is an enzyme that acts as a metabolic switch. It has been described as a protein that confers broad health benefits. From improving cardiovascular health to extending lifespan. It is activated in response to low levels of cellular energy, as during exercise or during periods of calorie restriction.
An increasing volume of studies have found that activation of AMPK in animal models leads to dramatic increases in lifespan, causing an increase in research investigating this enzyme.
The new KAIST study focused on this path in a small nematode, the caenorhabditis elegans, often used by researchers as a model for studying lifespan.
VRK-1, the anti aging partner
Researchers discovered an enzyme called VRK-1 that works in tandem with AMPK to regulate cellular energy processes and ultimately the longevity.
Increased VRK-1 activity in nematodes prolonged the life span of organisms by stimulating AMPK activity. On the other hand, inhibiting the enzyme reduced its duration. Moving on to laboratory cell tests, the researchers verified that this mechanism from VRK-1 to AMPK appears to occur in human cells as well, suggesting that it's possible that the results that prolong life span could be replicated on us as well.
These studies raise the possibility that VRK-1 also functions as a factor in human longevity. We can begin to develop drugs that by regulating the activity of VRK-1 increase life span.Seung-Jae V. Lee, first author of the research.
A promising dawn for anti aging treatments
The Korean studio is still in the early stages of development. The next steps will be to explore the effects of modulation of VRK-1 activity in more complex animal models of nematodes: for example rodents. Lee says that success in replicating this dynamic of VRK-1 and AMPK anti-aging enzymes in human cells is very, very important.
The path is almost certainly relevant in a large number of complex organisms, and it is necessary to understand how to exploit it for therapeutic results.