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Wonder Enzyme: Key to Longer, Healthier Lives?

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

Could an enzyme responsible for breaking down and eliminating booze from our bodies also be able to help us lead longer, healthier lives? Scientists have discovered a molecular mechanism that could offer just that.


Fit old man

In a surprise discovery, researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) found that the function of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase in detoxifying the body of glycerol and glyceraldehyde - the harmful by-products of fat that build up over time - may offer the best approach to not just extending life but, perhaps more importantly, allowing us to age more healthily. No wonder it's being hailed as a wonder enzyme.


“The discovery was unexpected,” said Eyleen Jorgelina O’Rourke, Associate Professor at UVA’s Department of Biology. “We went after a very well-supported hypothesis that the secret to longevity was the activation of a cell-rejuvenating process named autophagy and ended up finding an unrecognized mechanism of health and lifespan extension.”


They have named the mechanism AMAR (alcohol or aldehyde mediated anti-aging response), which just so happens to also be the Sanskrit word for immortality.


“We are hoping to identify partners (academic or private) to search together for compounds that activate the alcohol and/or the aldehyde dehydrogenase,” O'Rourke told New Atlas. “We are eager to perform these searches for activators because we see that the activation of these enzymes not only extends lifespan but it also reduces the severity and delays the onset of age-related diseases including obesity, loss of muscle function, and neurodegeneration.”


It's obviously still a long way off for most of us to look forward to, but some day...

 

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