In a bid to delay the ageing process, a team of scientists at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) studied ageing in yeast to try to understand if different cells age at the same rate, and for the same reason, according to CNN. They chose yeast because the cells are easily manipulated.
The scientists, who published their study in the journal Science, discovered that even cells made of the same genetic materials and within the same environment aged in distinct ways.
According to CNN, about half of the yeast cells aged because of a gradual decline in the nucleolus, a round body located in the nucleus of a cell, while the other half aged because of a dysfunction of mitochondria, which produce a cell's energy. The scientists used techniques including microfluidics and computer modelling and discovered this, added CNN.
Scientists said that the cells go down one of two paths early in life, and then continue with the ageing route until they ultimately decline and die, said CNN.
"To understand how cells make these decisions, we identified the molecular processes underlying each ageing route and the connections among them, revealing a molecular circuit that controls cell ageing, analogous to electric circuits that control home appliances," CNN reported quoting Nan Hao, senior author of the study.
The scientists also found they could manipulate and optimise the process of ageing, using computer simulations to reprogram the master circuit and modify its DNA, said CNN. They were then able to create a new ageing route with a dramatically extended lifespan, added CNN. The researchers believed that this could ultimately lead to the possibility of delay in human ageing, further reported CNN.
"This is an ageing path that never existed, but because we understand how it is regulated, we can basically design or regulate a new ageing path. Our study raises the possibility of rationally designing gene or chemical-based therapies to reprogram how human cells age, with a goal of effectively delaying human ageing and extending human healthspan," Hao told CNN.
Scientists said that they plan to test their model in complex cells, organisms, and then humans.