SCRIPPS FLORIDA SCIENTISTS IDENTIFY GENE THAT PLAYS A SURPRISING ROLE IN COMBATING AGING
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton
Released: 17-Jul-2014 10:50 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Scripps Research Institute Citations PLOS Genetics
Newswise — JUPITER, FL, July 17, 2014 – It is something of an eternal question: Can we slow or even reverse the aging process? Even though genetic manipulations can, in fact, alter some cellular dynamics, little is known about the mechanisms of the aging process in living organisms.
Now scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found in animal models that a single gene plays a surprising role in aging that can be detected early on in development, a discovery that could point toward the possibility of one day using therapeutics, even some commonly used ones, to manipulate the aging process itself.
“We believe that a previously uncharacterized developmental gene known as Spns1 may mediate the aging process,” said Shuji Kishi, a TSRI assistant professor who led the study, published recently by the journal PLOS Genetics.
“Even a partial loss of Spns1 function can speed aging.”
Using various genetic approaches to disturb Spns1 during the embryonic and/or larval stages of zebrafish—which have emerged as a powerful system to study diseases associated with development and aging—the scientists were able to produce some models with a shortened life span, others that lived long lives.
While most studies of “senescence”—declines in a cell’s power of division and growth—have focused on later stages of life, the study is intriguing in exploring this phenomenon in early stages. “Mutations to Spns1 both disturbs developmental senescence and badly affects the long-term bio-chronological aging process,” Kishi said.
The new study shows that Spns1, in conjunction with another pair of tumor suppressor genes, beclin 1 and p53 can, influences developmental senescence through two differential mechanisms: the Spns1 defect was enhanced by Beclin 1 but suppressed by ‘basal p53.’
In addition to affecting senescence, Spns1 impedes autophagy, the process whereby cells remove unwanted or destructive proteins and balance energy needs during various life stages.
Building on their insights from the study, Kishi and his colleagues noted in the future therapeutics might be able to influence aging through Spns1. He noted one commonly used antacid, Prilosec, has been shown to temporarily suppress autophagic abnormality and senescence observed in the Spns1 deficiency.
The first author of the study, “Aberrant Autolysosomal Regulation Is Linked to The Induction of Embryonic Senescence: Differential Roles of Beclin 1 and p53 in Vertebrate Spns1 Deficiency,” is Tomoyuki Sasaki of TSRI.
Other authors include Shanshan Lian, Jie Qi, Sujay Guha, Jennifer L. Johnson, Sergio D. Catz and Matthew Gill of TSRI; Peter E. Bayliss of the University Health Network, Toronto, Canada; Christopher E. Carr of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Patrick Kobler and Kailiang Jia of Florida Atlantic University; and Daniel J. Klionsky of the University of Michigan.
The work was supported by The Ellison Medical Foundation, Glenn Foundation for Medical Research, the A-T Children’s Project, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Aging (AG022641) and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (GM053396, GM101508).
About The Scripps Research Institute
The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world’s largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs about 3,000 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including three Nobel laureates—work toward their next discoveries. The institute’s graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation.
SHORT SMARTPHONE BREAK IMPROVES EMPLOYEE WELL-BEING
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton
Released: 7-Jul-2014 9:40 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Kansas State University Citations 29th annual Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Conference
Newswise — MANHATTAN, KAN. — Want to be more productive and happier during the workday? Try taking a short break to text a friend, play “Angry Birds” or check Facebook on your smartphone, according to Kansas State University research.
In his latest research, Sooyeol Kim, doctoral student in psychological sciences, found that allowing employees to take smartphone microbreaks may be a benefit — rather than a disruption — for businesses. Microbreaks are nonworking-related behaviors during working hours.
Through a study of 72 full-time workers from various industries, Kim discovered that employees only spend an average of 22 minutes out of an eight-hour workday playing on their smartphones. He also found that employees who take smartphone breaks throughout the day are happier at the end of the workday.
“A smartphone microbreak can be beneficial for both the employee and the organization,” Kim said. “For example, if I would play a game for an hour during my working hours, it would definitely hurt my work performance. But if I take short breaks of one or two minutes throughout the day, it could provide me with refreshment to do my job.”
To study smartphone usage, Kim and collaborators developed an application that the 72 study participants installed on their smartphones. The app privately and securely measured the employees’ smartphone usage during work hours. The app also divided the employees’ smartphone usage into categories such as entertainment, which included games such as “Angry Birds” or “Candy Crush,” or social media, which included Facebook and Twitter.
At the end of each workday, the participants recorded their perceived well-being.
“By interacting with friends or family members through a smartphone or by playing a short game, we found that employees can recover from some of their stress to refresh their minds and take a break,” Kim said.
Taking a break throughout the workday is important because it is difficult — and nearly impossible — for an employee to concentrate for eight straight hours a day without a break, Kim said. Smartphone microbreaks are similar to other microbreaks throughout the workday: chatting with coworkers, walking around the hallway or getting a cup of coffee. Such breaks are important because they can help employees cope with the demands of the workplace.
“These days, people struggle with a lot of different types of stressors, such as work demands, time scheduling, family issues or personal life issues,” Kim said. “We need to understand how we can help people recover and cope with stressors. Smartphones might help and that is really important not only for individuals, but for an organization, too.”
The smartphone research is part of Kim’s overall research that focuses on workplace microbreaks. His adviser is YoungAh Park, assistant professor of psychological sciences. Kim presented the research at the 29th annual Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Conference in May.
I am just having 5 minutes on my mobile running up bill. Back tomorrow Jeanne