Scientists discovered how a chemical compound found in red wine and dark chocolate could help to rejuvenate old cells in the laboratory, making them not only look younger, but start to behave more like young cells.
Scientists from the Universities of Exeter and Brighton have discovered how a chemical compound, found in red wine and dark chocolate, could help to rejuvenate inactive senescent cells, slowing down the ageing process.
The team successfully applied compounds based on chemicals naturally found in red wine, dark chocolate, red grapes and blueberries to cells in the laboratory.
Within hours of treatment with these so-called reversatrol analogues, the older cells started to divide, and had longer telomeres.
The study was based around the knowledge that when normal people age, the strands of DNA in cells gradually lose the protective telomeres that act a little like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. The result is that cells become progressively less able to repair themselves.
The team at Exeter University was led by Professor Lorna Harries, professor of molecular genetics, and supported by researchers at Brighton University.
The study builds on earlier findings which showed that a class of genes called splicing factors are progressively switched off as we age.
Professor Harries said: “This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life.
“Our data suggests that using chemicals to switch back on the major class of genes that are switched off as we age might provide a means to restore function to old cells.”
It was like magic
Dr Eva Latorre, research associate at the University of Exeter, who carried out the experiments, was surprised by the extent and rapidity of the changes in the cells.
She said: “When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn’t believe it. These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic. I repeated the experiments several times and in each case the cells rejuvenated.”
The discoveries have the potential to lead to therapies which could help people age better, without experiencing some of the degenerative effects of getting old.
Professor Richard Faragher from the University of Brighton said: “At a time when our capacity to translate new knowledge about the mechanisms of ageing into medicines and lifestyle advice is limited only by a chronic shortage of funds, older people are ill-served by self-indulgent science fiction.”
The research Small molecule modulation of splicing factor expression is associated with rescue from cellular senescence, was published in the journal BMC Cell Biology.
In the 2018-19 agricultural campaign, Mozambique lost over 40,000 hectares of cultivated land because of the abuse of pesticides in the attempt to control insect pests.
Interviewed by the Portuguese news agency Lusa, Aderito Lazaro of the Plant Health Department in the Ministry of Agriculture, said “the use of chemicals should be a last resort. However, at the first sign of a pest, the producers grab their pesticides, and one of the mistakes is that they use the same substance repeatedly. They should rotate”.
Lazaro cited the case of Boane district, 30 kilometres west of Maputo, where farmers had doubled the amount of pesticides used per week – without getting rid of the pests damaging the maize crop. Insects are showing signs of resistance to pesticides throughout the country.
The Agriculture Ministry, in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), has publicised methods to handle pests through an integrated range of measures, including not only conventional insecticides, but also biological pesticides and improved seeds.
Meanwhile, a new pest is threatening banana growers in Chokwe district, in the Limpopo valley. This is the banana bunchy top virus (BBTV). To prevent the spread of the virus the authorities are destroying infected banana trees in several plantations.
“This virus is lethal, and regardless of whether we cut the trees down or not, they will die”, said Celso Rufasse, coordinator of the BBTV project, cited by the independent daily “O Pais”.
“If we don’t cut the trees down, there will be a greater dispersal of the disease”, he continued. “The goal is to avoid the spread of the virus, so that we can eradicate the disease”.
Destroying the infected plants began a month ago, and so far almost 30,000 banana trees have been cut down in Chokwe. There is ban in place on the movement of bananas from Chokwe to elsewhere in the country.
The elimination of infected plants is budgeted at 20 million meticais (about 323,000 US dollars), and this task is receiving assistance from South Africa and the United States.
The virus is transmitted to plant by banana aphids. The virus damages the cells of the host plant, and usually prevents it from producing fruit. Any fruit that is produced is likely to be deformed.
Since there are no varieties of banana that are resistant to the virus, the only ways to eliminate the disease are to control the aphids, or to remove and destroy infected plants before the virus spreads.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has said that President Cyril Ramaphosa deliberately deceived Parliament with regard to a R500,000 donation from Bosasa to fund his African National Congress election campaign, Eyewitness News reports.
Mkhwebane said that Ramaphosa breached the Executive Ethics Code by failing to disclose financial interest accrued to him as a result of the donations received for the CR17 campaign, writes News24.
Mkhwebane also found that the means through which the R500,000 donation were funneled - transferred through several accounts before being paid into the president's campaign account - raised suspicion of money laundering, saying: "The allegation that there is an improper relationship between President Ramaphosa and his family on the one side, and the company African Global Operations (AGO/Bosasa) on the other side, due to the nature of the R500,000 payment passing through several intermediaries, instead of a straight donation towards the CR17 campaign, this raising suspicion of money laundering, has merit."
Mkhwebane referred the allegations of money laundering to authorities to investigate. Previously, Bejani Chauke, former CR17 Campaign Manager, said in a statement that there was "no basis whatsoever for even a suspicion of money laundering". Chauke's statement posted on The Mail & Guardian elaborated: "The CR17 campaign was funded by a broad range of individuals from across South Africa who supported the objectives of the campaign. These funds were paid into accounts established for this purpose and were used to cover the costs of the campaign such as stipends, travelling, communications and promotional material, meeting venues and accommodation. In the process, all legal and regulatory requirements were met."
Mkhwebane's statements come after Ramaphosa said that he was "willing and able" to appear before the Zondo Commission into state capture.
The long arm of the law has caught up with former Peruvian president, Alejandro Toledo who was arrested in the United States on Tuesday and faces extradition back to Peru.
According to Peruvian Justice Minister Vicente Zeballos, Toledo’s arrest and possible extradition is part of a sweeping corruption probe that has snared several political leaders.
Zeballos said Toledo would face an initial hearing later this week, which will determine whether the former president will be detained during the lengthy process of seeking his extradition from the United States.
“In round numbers, (extradition) could take a year,” Zeballos said. “The government is engaged in a full-on fight against corruption.”
Toledo would likely have a further bail hearing before the extradition process and could potentially file a final legal appeal, Zeballos added.
Toledo, who served as president from 2001 to 2006, is a fugitive from Peruvian justice for allegedly receiving $20 million from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht [ODBES.UL] in exchange for aid to win public works contracts.
Peru formally requested his extradition from the United States a year ago.
Toledo, 73, who was arrested in California, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.