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Professor Radman's elixir of youth

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Staff writer | Saturday November 29, 2008 1:00AM ET
Miroslav RadmanMany alchemists and scientists have been trying to find the elixir of youth for centuries. Miroslav Radman's scientific team came very close to the Holy Grail of genetics.


Professor Miroslav Radman, a prominent Croatian biologist, and his team hope that they will be able to isolate small molecules that protect all the proteins. That includes specific "physicians proteins", thanks to which, professor Radman believes, Homo sapiens could at last reveal "the elixir of youth".

"We believe that we have put a finger on the chemistry of life, to that 'something' that limits life," said Radman in Zagreb during the two-day symposium celebrating the 50 years of molecular biology.

Together with professor Radman on the project have worked Ksenija Zahratka from Rudjer Boskovic Institute, Dea Slade and Anita Krisko. They discovered a "molecular basis of robustness of organisms", and ancestors of those organisms began to live before a couple of billions of years ago.

Miroslav RadmanThe team examined bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans and organism Rotifer that are very resistant and whose molecules, unlike those in the human, protect the "protein doctors who repair the defects or damage in all the important molecules". If "proteins doctors" would not be active, body cells would not have lived even 24 hours. The problem with the human species occurs when "physicians proteins" are damaged and cease to function, which is why all the other proteins and genes suffer. Then all illnesses grow with geometrical progression and the final result are illness, weakness and eventually death.

Deinococcus radiodurans and Rotifer are resistant to ultraviolet and ionizing radiation, and thus to oxidative stress which occurs in the decomposition of water in cell and freeing of oxygen radicals that damage DNA, RNA, proteins, fats, and iron.

Miroslav Radman"Those organisms are robust because they can protect their proteins, different functional molecules of life, from damage caused by molecules or the process that we do not know yet, but we know that their robustness is direct result of the protection of these proteins," said professor Radman.

Radman hopes that when his team isolates the molecules or the process, and if it provide evidence to be safe for humans, that would really be the elixir of youth which may prevent aging and make rejuvenation possible. "In addition to insulating molecule, it is necessary to conduct the tests on animals and humans and to determine the optimal concentration of molecules that would be brought into the body in food, drink or tablets", said Radman.

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