London, May 6: In what could be one of the most important breakthroughs of the century, scientists are hoping to reveal the secret to the fountain of youth with the telomerase enzyme found in the body.
The Arizona State University together with collaborators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai have done a first of its kind atomic level look at the enzyme that may provide answers.
Telomeres are found at the ends of our chromosomes and are stretches of DNA which protect our genetic data, make it possible for cells to divide, and hold some secrets as to how we age, and also how we get cancer.
Each time one of our cells divides its telomeres get shorter, and becomes inactive or dies when it gets too short and the cell can no longer divide.
Professor Julian Chen, who’s one of the project’s senior authors, explains that telomerase is crucial for telomere maintenance and genome integrity.
Mutations that disrupt telomerase function have been linked to numerous human diseases that arise from telomere shortening and genome instability.
Chen added that they are particularly excited about the research because it provides, for the first time, an atomic level description of the protein-RNA interaction in the vertebrate telomerase complex.
The study was published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. (ANI)