Aging simulation finds dangerous molecule activity

October 4, 2016 by Birgitte Svennevig, Syddansk Universitet
Aging simulation finds dangerous molecule activity
Ilia Solov'yov. Credit: Syddansk Universitet

Every time we breathe, we bring crucial oxygen into the body. However, a very small part of this oxygen may be converted to so-called free radicals, which have the ability to damage our cells. The older we become, the more our cells are damaged, and thereby also our organs, muscles, etc.

Free radicals also have great significance concerning aging and thus, understandably, attract great scientific interest.

Researchers Ilia Solov'yov and Peter Husen are trying to understand how free radicals form. Their interest is not only medica; they are just as much concerned with the opportunities that computer power holds concerning analysis of extremely – such as the formation of the special group of called superoxides.

"We wanted to find out exactly which factors lead to the formation of these superoxides. We knew as much that the formation occurs in a cluster of proteins but the rest was a mystery. And of course, it is interesting to find out the details, because it is only when we know them that we can hope to be able to control and perhaps even prevent the formation of superoxides," says Ilia Solov'yov who is an associate professor and head of the Quantum Biology and Computational Physics Group at SDU.

Together with postdoc Peter Husen from the same research group, he fed the Danish super computer Abacus molecular biological data and asked it to make a simulation of what is going on inside the relevant cluster of proteins that leads to the formation of superoxides.

"The simulation showed us that an oxygen molecule can penetrate and reach specific locations in the cluster of proteins where, potentially, it can absorb an extra electron and thus turn into superoxide. This cannot be observed with a regular microscope, and therefore, this process has so far been unknown."

The scientists' next step is to examine whether it is possible to prevent the from entering the protein cluster and initiate the formation of the harmful superoxides.

Explore further: Researchers describe how free radicals contribute to aging

Related Stories

Researchers describe how free radicals contribute to aging

July 22, 2016

Aging in part is the result of oxidative damage to proteins caused by free radicals, a byproduct of interaction of our bodies and radiation such as sunlight. A new study by Yale scientists provides some clues into how this ...

Nano-antioxidants prove their potential

February 9, 2015

Injectable nanoparticles that could protect an injured person from further damage due to oxidative stress have proven to be astoundingly effective in tests to study their mechanism.

Brain receptor cell could be new target for Alzheimer's

November 18, 2014

Blocking a key receptor in brain cells that is used by oxygen free radicals could play a major role in neutralizing the biological consequences of Alzheimer's disease, according to researchers at Temple University.

Recommended for you

Semimetals are high conductors

March 18, 2019

Researchers in China and at UC Davis have measured high conductivity in very thin layers of niobium arsenide, a type of material called a Weyl semimetal. The material has about three times the conductivity of copper at room ...

Researchers discover new material to help power electronics

March 18, 2019

Electronics rule our world, but electrons rule our electronics. A research team at The Ohio State University has discovered a way to simplify how electronic devices use those electrons—using a material that can serve dual ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.