PhotoRecent work done by researchers at the University of Warwick could allow for future successful efforts at fighting diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. Scientists at the institution have created a database that stores information on proteins that contribute to autophagy – an essential bodily process that regulates physical health, but which wears down as we age.

With this database, new information on proteins can be constantly updated so that the medical community can create drugs that help autophagy stay effective. The researchers have been able to identify and add over 700 new proteins to the database thus far.

“Our novel database resource will open a lot of new avenues in basic and translational science. Identifying novel selective autophagy-related proteins will help for the development of novel pharmaceutical drug targets for a large variety of diseases like cancer, neurodegeneration and other ageing-related diseases, infections, diabetes, obesity and Crohn’s disease,” said lead researcher Dr. Ioannis Nezis.

Increased quality of life

The importance of discovering and learning about autophagy-specific proteins cannot be understated. Generally speaking, autophagy lets our bodies maintain themselves, allowing for damaged cells, harmful bacteria, and infections to be destroyed. Unfortunately, this process tends to break down when we get older, which gives rise to many of the diseases and illnesses of aging.

Now that new information is being compiled, the medical community can better understand how proteins contribute to the regulatory process. Experts will now be able to create drugs that help maintain autophagy and keep our bodies healthier for longer.

The main takeaway, Nezis says, is that the quality of life for older individuals will be increased by the possibility of not having to contend with age-related diseases and complications.

The full study has been published in the journal Autophagy

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