go to contents go to side menu go to main menu

main menu area

main menu area

Innovative University Changing the World through Convergence

Embed to SNS

Research News

Secrets to Healthy Aging of Centenarians

  • 조회. 499
  • 등록일. 2017.04.03
  • 작성자. Administrator

Secrets to Healthy Aging of Centenarians

-Special Interview with Chair Professor Park SangChul 

"I started my career with cancer research.

In the early 1990s, I changed my research topic to aging. At that time, many

researchers were drawn to investigate the relationship between the oxidative

damage and aging. I thought I could do something very different in this area.

Especially, while conducting researches on centenarians, I come to have a

totally new perspective on the aging."

Chair professor Park SangChul at the

Department of New Biology recalls his early days. Twenty-six years back, he

just believed that everything will be all gone with age. Thus, he tried to

investigate how to delay the aging process. Professor Park said, "I wanted to

define what the aging that we are fighting against means. At that time, the

life expectancy of human being was 100 years old at best. So, I was looking for

people who were about 100 years old to study their physical conditions who were

deemed to be near death.

To "the Era of

Rejuvenation" from "the Era of Anti-aging"

While meeting centenarians, he

changed his view on aging completely as he found out very proactive

regenerative power in the centenarians who thought to be entering into their

final stage of life. At that point, he realized that regeneration of the body

cell was the key to overcome the aging. Afterwards, he started to focus on

rejuvenation of old cells, instead of the "anti-aging" approach to slow down

aging. Prior to the studies of centenarians, Professor Park conducted the

research of proliferation of old cells. When sending signals of proliferation,

the old cells, unlike the young ones, did not show any response to this signal.

He identified that the cell membrane of old cells contained a protein called "Caveolin" which blocked external signals. It is called the “Gate Theory” of

aging as it acts as a gatekeeper to decide whether or not this protein accepts

the signal. He published the theory in 2000 on Biochemistry. Professor Park

said, "I and my colleagues have now found a material that allows older fibroblasts

to grow back to their youth." He added "The research is now pending for the

publication on the renowned journals after series of verifications."

Inclusive Research for

Aging Is Required

According to Professor Park, aging theories, such as the

oxidative damage theory and the telomere theory focusing on cell or gene

damage, suffer a setback now. "The effects of antioxidants in animal

experiments have not been proven. We could found the longer the antioxidants

are used, the worse effects had been showed," he said.

The theory that telomeres become shorter is also found to be in

conflict with existing perspectives. Telomeres of rats with a lifetime of 2

years are ten times longer than that of human’s. Even wild rats have shorter

telomere than experimental rats, whereas wild rats live longer than

experimental rats.

Professor Park stressed that there are two remaining theories of

aging; inflammation damage theory and environmental theory. "If you fell and

got hurt, the wound is the cause of inflammation. On the other hand, the

inflammation damage theory is based that old cells are vulnerable to

inflammation even without causes. Professor Park reported on online edition of

the "Scientific Report" on January 3 that the cause of inflammation

in intestinal cells is due to decreasing number of immune and perivascular

cells that carry signals. Professor Park said, "If we identify a substance

that regulates the number of cells around the blood vessels, that will help to

prolong the life span."

When it comes to aging, genetics factors play less than 30

percent and the rest depends on the environmental factors. Professor Park

points out "In the 20th
 century, it was a "public aging era." Among

environmental factors, medical services, public hygiene and safety in the

public sectors played an important role in people’s aged life and life

expectancy. However, today, individuals may regulate their lifespan." It

means that it is becoming a "private aging era." Personal activities such as

daily exercise, regular medical checkup, healthy eating habits will control the

aging. The aging rather becomes an individual issue; how much he or she care

about themselves physically and maintain health-conscious life style. Professor

Park said, "Leaders in diverse fields, such as nutrition, biology and

sociology, should conduct comprehensive research together."

Original version of this article appears on the Donga ScienceBy: Kim JinHo, Picture: Choi HoShik

Translation: International Affairs Team