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Medical Aging Roundup

November 27, 2009

A protective enzyme may be the key to long life.


Staving off aging. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If your family is blessed with long-life, you may owe it all to your telomeres. These strand-like structures help cells divide, but shorten a little each time they do it. When they get too short, cells stop dividing and begin to wither. But scientists at Yeshiva University have found that people who live to be a hundred or more have a type of enzyme that protects telomeres, allowing cells to divide longer. The goal is to develop drugs that mimic the enzyme, to help all of us age more slowly and gracefully.

In other medical news, researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute have found that a receptor molecule in brain cells called nogo receptor 1 stops us from forming long term memories. The scientists believe nogo receptor 1 protects us from becoming overloaded with memories of every one of the things that we experience each day. But understanding it better could lead to treatments for disorders that keep us from remembering things that are important to us. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.