Science News

Misfolded Proteins: Maybe not so bad

Author: Hriday Bhambhvani

The mystery of aging has plagued scientists for centuries. Indeed, biologist August Weismann proposed the cell damage theory in 1882 –  “Like components of an aging car, parts of the body eventually wear out from repeated use, killing them and then the body.” The prevailing view of aging today is along the same lines; we age due to increasing cellular malfunction over the years. In general, it is thought that the quality control mechanisms within the cell break down in the aging process. These quality control functions serve to eliminate proteins that are not functional and have lost their typical structure. When quality control functions go awry, misfolded proteins aggregate and contribute to the pathogenesis of a variety of debilitating diseases: Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, for example.