Mitochondrial DNA ‘Spring Cleaning’ could prevent ageing

Health Contributor
Today's Focus
mitochondrial DNA
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From the dawn of time and myth, man has ventured far and wide, tirelessly striving to reach various mythical immortality sources like the tree of life, fountain of youth or notably the elixir of life. Many died needlessly in this ignorant pursuit and few ever heard again from those who claimed to have succeeded.

Nowadays, we have come to discover a great deal about the fauna and flora on our planet. When watching the many fascinating and enigmatic animals inhabiting our planet, described by the soothing voice of David Attenborough, we come across beings who’ve long achieved that, for which some men strived for centuries; namely the ever-living regenerating jellyfish.

How mitochondrial DNA prevent ageing?

Now although scientists haven’t as of yet fully stopped the ageing process, which would really only be preserving us from joining Allah (SWT) in the eternal Jannah, they have indeed made significant progress in slowing down the progression of age-related diseases and cellular ageing.

By analysing mitochondrial DNA structure and the accompanying processes involved in cellular ageing, which in part contribute to the body’s overall ageing, UCLA researchers came to the realisation that instead of directly combatting age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia, they could be targeting most of the set by focusing on the root of the problem – damaged (aged) mitochondria DNA.

As a reminder for those who’ve forgotten their high-school biology, mitochondria are the cells the fabricate ATP which is effectively the molecule later transformed into energy by our body. By using a special technique of selective cellular cleansing, UCLA researchers claim to successfully rejuvenate cells with corrupted mitochondrial DNA, and thus increase the proportion of healthy mitochondria cells in the body.

Future of this process?

For now, this sort of procedure is far from being openly performed, however scientists claim that in the near future, it may help prevent motor and cognitive dysfunction that come with the process of ageing. We can envision in some 20 years, the average Joe casually going through a quick mitochondrial cleansing session on a Monday morning, fixing up his damaged mitochondrial DNA before work.

The body itself is actually capable of restoring mitochondrial DNA, explain the researchers, though it needs to be additionally stimulated to be effective at this process. Currently, the scientists working on the project are scouting to see if any medication or substance might induce the same type of process in the body, helping to revitalise the mitochondria.

Generally speaking, as with most inventions, the procedure will certainly be costly the first couple of years, considering that it’s still currently in prototype mode and has only been tested on animal subjects. Although we can probably expect an commercial appearance somewhere within the next 10 years.

This DNA-rejuvenation technique is indubitably a solid stepping stone for scientific progress in the field as it continues to shed light on central processes in cellular ageing, which if well understood, will amount to the creation of a healthier and happier population.


(Written by Hussein Al-Bahir)

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