Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.
Why is this research important: Autophagy is derived from the latin words ‘auto’ and ‘phagy’, which translates to ‘self-eating’. It is a process through which parts of the cell are broken down and degraded.
Autophagy is a molecular mechanism that can be observed in almost every eukaryotic organism, from yeast to mammals and even plants. It has also been heavily associated with human disease and is one of the most actively researched processes in geroscience. However, despite such efforts, clinically viable interventions have not yet been uncovered.
What did the researchers do: In an article published in Nature, researchers discuss the therapeutic potential of autophagy modulators, pharmacological or nutritional agents that influence the rate of this cellular recycling process. The authors also analyse the obstacles that have limited their development and propose strategies that may unlock the full potential of bringing autophagy modulation in the clinic.
They also provide a useful table, tracking the main modulators of autophagy currently available and their limitations.
Key takeaway(s) from this research: Interventions that promote or inhibit autophagy have immense therapeutic potential. Yet, numerous obstacles, whether of a pharmacological, technical or experimental nature, have hindered the straightforward application of autophagy modulators into the clinic.
The authors conclude…
We are confident that many of these hurdles can be circumvented upon the development of more selective autophagy modulators, more precise biomarkers of the autophagic flux and more physiological models of autophagy deficiency in vivo.Source: Pharmacological modulation of autophagy: therapeutic potential and persisting obstacles