Deep inside the inner-workings of our bodies, our cells are constantly being destroyed and recycled. According to scientific research, it is this ability to self-destruct and reprocess that paradoxically, may actually help us live longer lives.
Within our cells, there are two kinds of specialized sub-units that behave like recycling mechanisms: Proteasomes and Lysosomes. Acting like a resourceful recycling service, these organelles break up waste materials and cellular debris and reuse and rebuild from that waste in essence, recreating new molecules from old parts.
According to Dr. Ana Maria Cuervo, a leading scientific authority in the field of molecular biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, this self-destruction and recycling process is essential for our survival and in many different ways.
Unfortunately, as we get older, our cells lose their cannibalistic prowess (scientifically termed as ‘autophagy’) and this decline may contribute to several characteristics and pathologies associated with aging. Unable to clear away the cellular garbage, our bodies start to fail. If this hypothesis turns out to be right, then it may be possible to slow the aging process by raising autophagy.
The goal of Dr. Cuervo and her lab is to identify defect(s) that lead to decreased activity of autophagy with age, and to analyze if the correction of those defects and recovery of normal activity in old cells leads to an improvement in cellular function.
Read more about the role of autophagy in aging.