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The biology of ageing

last modified Jan 29, 2014 02:56 PM
The biology of ageing

Dr Rhian Grainger and Biochemistry Part III student Ben Thomas, who are far from needing treatment for aging, at the SRF project.

The Sens Research Foundation has renewed its grant to CEB for a research programme on the biology of ageing. Our long-term goal is to find ways to reverse the chemical cross-linking of proteins that accumulates in the eye, skin, arteries, tendons and cartilage with age. The cross-links, formed as an end product of random reaction of sugars with extracellular proteins, are believed to contribute to hypertension and arthritis as well as less debilitating but more obvious disabilities of old age such as wrinkles and the need for reading glasses. The SRF is dedicated to discovering genuinely curative approaches to the diseases and disabilities of old age, through attacking basic mechanisms of age-related damage. The Cambridge group is one of a number of programmes they are funding towards this goal.

The Cambridge group has more modest goals to start with, developing methods for measuring cross-links fast and accurately, so that the linkage with diseases can be measured and potential cross-link cleavage reagents tested. The group's principal focus is glucosepane, the major glycation endproduct cross-link in humans. Our first year was spent, inevitably, finding out what did not work (how *do* you dissolve cartilage, for example?). Progress was good, though, and the Foundation is keen to push the research through to the next phase of finding reagents that do work, and using them. Dr. Rhian Grainger is the group's postdoctoral researcher at the bench, and cheerfully manages two bosses - Prof Chris Lowe (PI on the programme) and Dr. William Bains (Senior Research Associate). Rhian joined the department at the start of this project in 2011.

The team is very grateful to SRF for their continued support on this exciting project. For more on the group and the SRF, please visit http://sens-lab.ceb.cam.ac.uk .