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The discovery of a new enzyme within the power houses of skin cells which is responsible for aging, has proved to be a major breakthrough and it is expected to help in formulation of better anti-aging therapies.

For centuries, man has sought to defy the process of aging in order to preserve the youthful look. A major scientific discovery has recently come to light in which scientists have stumbled across a key factor that is responsible for aging and harnessing its power can help devise better anti-aging solutions.

How Skin Cells Age: Secrets Unraveled

The research team was led by Mark Birch-Machin, Professor of Molecular Dermatology at Newcastle University and the results of this study were published online in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. During the course of this research, trials were carried out on the skin cells (fibroblasts) obtained from 27 donors between the ages of six to 72 years. These skin cells were obtained from areas of skin that are normally not exposed to sunlight, both from the upper layer of skin (epidermis) and the lower layer (dermis).

Various techniques were employed to measure the level and activity of the enzyme called succinate dehydrogenase complex located within the mitochondrial complex II of the skin cells. Mitochondria are basically the batteries of cells and are responsible for the production of energy to drive various cellular processes.

 The enzyme plays an important role in energy production. As explained by Professor Mark Birch-Machin, “As our bodies age we see that the batteries in our cells run down, known as decreased bio-energy, and harmful free radicals increase . This process is easily seen in our skin as increased fine lines, wrinkles and sagging appears.”

The scientists found that the level of this enzyme per unit of the mitochondria was significantly reduced in the skin cells obtained from older people. This decline was found to be more in the skin cells obtained from lower layer as compared to the top layer. Another significant point of interest was that these changes were present only in the skin cells that had stop dividing further.

The Future Implications

This study has paved way for better and innovative anti-aging therapies that will specifically target this enzyme to reverse the aging process. Since the enzyme plays an important role in the electron transport chain (the energy production mechanism) within the mitochondria, the reduction in its concentration, coupled with increase in the level of free radicals within the skin cells accelerates the aging mechanism.

The future remedies of aging are expected to be tailored specifically to counteract the decrease in the level of this enzyme and to revive its activity. This way, it will be possible to combat the telltale signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles on the skin.

These cosmetic innovations will be more effective and will help control the anxiety of the consumers using the presently available anti-aging therapies that the signs of aging will return and render the therapy ineffective.

This study has brought the scientists one step closer to understanding the exact process of aging and to delve into the role that mitochondria plays in aging. Following this breakthrough, it is expected that more powerful anti-aging interventions and cosmetic products will be developed which will be more beneficial and lasting than the conventional anti-aging therapies available today.

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