Researchers have found that an anti-ageing pill that can postpone the onset of wrinkles and crow's feet could be developed soon.
It was found that the end of chromosomes contains a protective bit of DNA called telomeres, which shortens every time a cell divides. This is said to be responsible for causing ageing and also raises the risk of other ailments with growing age, as per experts.
A study revealed that the protective tips of the chromosomes grow longer with the help of an enzyme called telomerase, whose levels are found to be more in cancer cells. This age triggering enzyme motivated scientists to invent a drug which can prevent this phenomenon and stop ageing.
Researchers believe that this finding could also aid in finding a treatment to cure cancer. The capability of tissues to reform themselves gets damaged when the telomeres send signals to the cell to halt dividing permanently after they shorten too much.
This impairment in tissue regenerating ability makes you prone to inflammation and leads to various diseases related to ageing, which includes cancer. A previously conducted research had revealed that oxidative stress, which leads to formulation of free radicals, which are damaging molecules fastens the ageing process.
"Telomeres can act like a "clock" inside cells telling them when it's the right time to self-destruct. But this process can be disrupted in cancer and other diseases so understanding exactly what is happening inside cells will give researchers clues for how to correct mistakes and take advantage of cells' strengths and weaknesses to help treat disease," said Nell Barrie, Cancer Research UK's senior science information manager, as quoted by Daily Mail.
"There's still a lot we need to understand about how the telomeres "clock" works and research like this will help to shed light on its inner workings," Barrie added.
DNAs that make telomeres and its building blocks telomerase, which elongate the chromosomes, are prone to get damaged by the free radicals.
Pittsburgh University researchers analysed if oxidative stress could hamper telomerase enzyme from performing its function. They later examined the outcome of subjecting the telomere building blocks to damage. It was found that the telomere got shortening by building block damaging free radicals and not just the enzyme.
"The new information will be useful in designing new therapies to preserve telomeres in healthy cells and ultimately help combat the effects of inflammation and ageing. On the flip side, we hope to develop mechanisms to selectively deplete telomeres in cancer cells to stop them from dividing," stated Lead researcher Professor Patricia Opresko of Pittsburgh University, as per the Daily Mail report.
"Much to our surprise telomerase could lengthen telomeres with oxidative damage. In fact, the damage seems to promote telomere lengthening," Prof Opresko added.