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Joslin scientists identify important mechanism that affects the aging process
Date:5/1/2012

ic regulatory mechanisms.

TOR activity, which is essential for early development but can lead to age-related decline, is implicated in a variety of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. In diabetes, TOR has both positive and negative effects: It promotes beta cell growth and insulin production but inappropriate TORC1 activity leads to insulin resistance and beta cell demise, as well as fat accumulation. At the same time, insufficient TORC2 activity can lead to insulin resistance.

The new results on TOR and SKN-1 suggest that SKN-1 might have a positive effects in Type 2 diabetes: "Turning on this pathway could be important in defending against the effects of high glucose, and promoting beta cell health" says Blackwell.

In the study, TOR activity was inhibited by genetic interference and the TOR-inhibitor rapamycin, a naturally occurring compound which is used as an immunosuppressant in organ transplants, and has been shown to increase lifespan in mice. Using rapamycin or related drugs to treat diseases affected by TOR has been a subject of intense interest among scientists and clinicians. The study found that rapamycin inhibits both TORC1 and TORC2, which will interest scientists investigating rapamycin as a pharmaceutical. "We need to increase understanding of rapamycin and its effects on TOR activity to determine how targeting TOR or processes it controls can help treat diseases that involve TOR and derangement of metabolism. We also need to look at therapies that work on TORC1 and TORC2 independently," said Blackwell. However, one caveat with TOR inhibition is that the kinase plays such a central role in the basic physiology of growing and dividing cells. The new results suggest that in some situations we might want to bypass TOR itself, and directly harness beneficial processes that are controlled by SKN-1 or DAF-16.


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Contact: Jeffrey Bright
jeffrey.bright@joslin.harvard.edu
617-309-1957
Joslin Diabetes Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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