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Breakthrough Technology Selectively Removes Aging Cells

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UNIST researchers developed a technology targeting aging cells, selectively removing them while sparing healthy ones, offering potential treatments for age-related diseases with minimal toxicity and a broad therapeutic window.

Key takeaways

    • Researchers at UNIST have developed a groundbreaking technology to selectively remove aging cells (senescent cells) while preserving healthy ones, offering potential treatments for age-related diseases.
    • The technology employs organic molecules that target receptors overexpressed in aging cell membranes, using elevated reactive oxygen species levels to create protein-like nanoassemblies that disrupt mitochondrial membranes in aging cells.
      • This approach shows promise for treating age-related conditions with minimal toxicity concerns and a wide therapeutic window, paving the way for future trials.

      A research team, led by Professor Ja Hyoung Ryu from the Department of Chemistry at UNIST, in collaboration with Professor Hyewon Chung from Konkuk University, has achieved a significant breakthrough in the treatment of age-related diseases. Their cutting-edge technology offers a promising new approach by selectively removing aging cells, without harming normal healthy cells. This groundbreaking development is poised to redefine the future of healthcare and usher in a new era of targeted therapeutic interventions.

      Aging cells, known as senescent cells, contribute to various inflammatory conditions and age-related ailments as humans age. To address this issue, the research team focused on developing a technology that could precisely target and eliminate aging cells, while sparing normal healthy cells.

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      In their study, the team designed organic molecules that selectively target receptors overexpressed in the membranes of aging cells. By leveraging the higher levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) found in aging cells, these molecules promote the formation of disulfide bonds and create oligomers that bind together.

      Through self-assembly of these oligomers, the researchers successfully created artificial proteins with a stable α-helix secondary structure. These protein-like nanoassemblies exhibited strong binding affinity to the mitochondrial membranes of aging cells, leading to membrane disruption and subsequent cell self-destruction.

      “The selective removal of aging cells by targeting the mitochondria and inducing dysfunction has been successfully demonstrated in our experiments,” stated Professor Ryu. “This approach represents a new paradigm for treating age-related diseases.”

      This innovative technology offers several advantages, including minimal toxicity concerns and a wide therapeutic window by specifically targeting organelles within cells. It opens up exciting possibilities for designing preclinical and clinical trials in the future.

      Reference: Kim S, Chae JB, Kim D, et al. Supramolecular senolytics via intracellular oligomerization of peptides in response to elevated reactive oxygen species levels in aging cells. J Am Chem Soc. 2023. doi: 10.1021/jacs.3c06898

      This article has been republished from the following materials. Article summaries may have been generated by fact-checked AI models. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.