Anti-Aging Molecule Discovered
Korea Times | January 1, 2007
A team of South Korean scientists on Sunday claimed to have created a ``cellular fountain of youth,’’ or a small molecule, which enables human cells to avoid aging and dying.
The team, headed by Prof. Kim Tae-kook at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, argued the newly-synthesized molecule, named CGK733, can even make cells younger.
The findings were featured by the Britain-based Nature Chemical Biology online early today and will be printed as a cover story in the journal’s offline edition early next month.
``All cells face an inevitable death as they age. On this path, cells became lethargic and in the end stop dividing but we witnessed that CGK733 can block the process,’’ Kim said.
``We also found the synthetic compound can reverse aging, by revitalizing already-lethargic cells. Theoretically, this can give youth to the elderly via rejuvenating cells,’’ the 41-year-old said.
Kim expected that the CGK733-empowered drugs that keep cells youthful far beyond their normal life span would be commercialized in less than 10 years.
Other researchers here heaped praises on the discovery but they were cautious about the practical therapeutic application of the new substance.
``Obviously, it is an innovative finding. But we need to see whether or not CGK733 could really rejuvenate cells inside human bodies without generating side effects,’’ Prof. Kim Sung-hoon at Seoul National University said.
Prof. Kim Tae-kook, however, is confident about the commercial viability of CGK733, believing the efficiency of the material was created using state-of-the-art magnetic nano-probe technology.
``We have the magnet-associated technology to identify molecular targets inside living cells, which allowed us to examine the mechanisms of CGK733 directly,’’ Kim said.
``Unlike other research teams that must make candidates materials for drugs without being able to see their intra-cell activities, we know the precise mechanism of CGK733. So we have the better chance of making a success of the substance,’’ he continued.
Indeed, Kim basked in global recognition last June when he and his associates developed a technology dubbed MAGIC, short for magnetism-based interactive capture.
MAGIC uses fluorescent materials to check whether any drug can mix with targeted proteins inside the cell. The results were globally recognized by being printed by the U.S.-based journal Science at the time.
``MAGIC is kind of a source technology to see inside cells. Based on the method, we also found a pair of promising substances that can deal with cancers,’’ Kim said.
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