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Publications of the Week

Optogenetic Rejuvenation of Mitochondrial Membrane Potential Extends C. elegans Lifespan

By January 4, 2023No Comments

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This week we profile a recent publication in Nature Aging from Dr. Brandon Berry (pictured) in Dr. Matt Kaeberlein’s lab at the University of Washington in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Wojtovich’s lab at the University of Rochester.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

The Kaeberlein lab at University of Washington studies how animals age with the goal of finding new ways to treat diseases of aging and to promote strategies for healthy aging. In particular, Dr. Brandon Berry is focused on how mitochondria, the cell’s powerhouses and metabolic regulators, may dictate the rate of animal aging. 

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

In collaboration with the Wojtovich lab at University of Rochester, the team created technology to manipulate mitochondria in intact nematode worms using visible light. Surprisingly, they found that simply boosting metabolism using the light-powered mitochondria caused these laboratory worms to live much longer than animals without the light-technology.  The study demonstrated that mitochondria are like cellular batteries, and recharging those biological batteries was enough to promote a longer, healthier life.

What are the next steps for this research?

The next steps for this work are to determine molecular mechanisms that allow this lifespan extension, and to uncover ways that the knowledge can be implemented in humans to better treat age-related diseases and to promote healthy aging.

If you’d like to mention your funding sources, please list them.

Dr. Berry is supported by an NIH grant through the National Institute on Aging, the Biological Mechanisms of Healthy Aging training grant, T32 AG066574. 

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