One thing about the internet, when a scientific report is published, seven billion people know instantly.
The scientific community has studied aging for decades. Of the tens of thousands of scientists studying the phenomenon of aging and its causes, the length of the telomeres seemed to be the most important factor, but the activity of the mitochondria have also been enmeshed in the research.
Yesterday, however, a small group of scientists presented a paper which indicated that the mitochondria are the chief source of the aging process.
The article appeared in the Financial Times. Here is an excerpt:
“The research, published by the journal Molecular Systems Biology, shows that when an aging cell detects serious damage to its DNA Ã¢â‚¬“ caused by the wear and tear of life Ã¢â‚¬“ it sends out specific internal signals.
These distress signals trigger the cellÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mitochondria, its tiny energy-producing power packs, to make oxidising Ã¢â‚¬Å“free radicalÃ¢â‚¬Â molecules, which in turn tell the cell either to destroy itself or to stop dividing. The aim is to avoid the damaged DNA that causes cancer.”
According to this excerpt, the cell has a large number of recognition devices and communication devices.
The cell (which part?) recognizes damage to its DNA. How was that discovered? The mitochondria then produce produce “free radical” molecules.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There has been a huge amount of speculation about how blocking telomere erosion might cure ageing and age-related diseases,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Tom Kirkwood, director of NewcastleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Institute of Ageing and Health. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The telomere story has over-promised and the biology is more complicated.Ã¢â‚¬Â
(If you follow the link to Newcastle’s Institute of Ageing and Health you discover that this is a commercial endeavor associated with the faculties of eight universities in the U.K. In other words, the Newcastle Institute is a business, and a business only exists to make a profit. Businesses associated with scientific research are notorious for hyping their findings, no matter how small.)
The idea that mitochondrial activities are involved in aging has been studied extensively. So has the involvement of telomeres in aging.
What we are seeing is a coalescence of the two areas that we feel are involved in aging. It is likely that both telomeres and mitochondria are both interrelated.