"All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered;
the point is to discover them." (Galileo)
Natural aging is determined by two competing processes in all organisms: cellular survival and cell death. Our working group is working on identifying factors that control these central processes. With the help of model organisms such as yeast and flies, but also in cooperation with clinical studies, we research the how and why of human aging.
In an aging society, it is important to find ways and strategies to stay healthy for as long as possible. Based on our basic research in model organisms, we evaluate nutritional models (e.g. fasting) and pharmacological interventions with regard to the aging process and age-associated diseases.
The long-term goal of the working group is to develop interventions that can extend the life span and especially the health span.
Polyamines, small cationic molecules that are found in all living organisms, play an important role in the aging process. With the help of baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), we were able to prove that declining polyamine levels can be the cause of cellular aging. That is why our laboratory intensively researches the cellular regulation of polyamine metabolism on the one hand, and the complex regulation of polyamine levels in the entire organism on the other. The CellHealth Anti-Aging Screening Platform is also used to search for new naturally occurring molecules that can slow down the aging process.
A central mechanism in many anti aging molecules is the cellular recycling program autophagy.
Autophagy is an intracellular recycling process in which intracellular molecules and organelles (e.g. mitochondria) are enclosed in vesicles that fuse with lysosomes to digest and reuse the contents. Autophagy is involved in the processes of the immune system and plays an important role in developmental processes in cells and organs.
Autophagy is of particular interest to us because its activation is essential for a large part of the known anti-aging interventions, including the life-prolonging effects of polyamine supplementation. At the same time, autophagy defects have been linked to the development of many age-related diseases. We are therefore exploring ways to activate autophagy with various interventions in order to ultimately extend health span.
The regulated death of a cell is an essential building block for healthy aging. Our cells have a cell death machinery that can be activated via defined, molecular switches to specifically remove old or potentially dangerous cells (e.g. cancer cells). Intriguingly, this cellular suicide is also evolutionarily conserved in microorganisms such as baker's yeast. Our laboratory identified signs of regulated cell death in yeast for the first time, thus establishing an entire field of research. This phenomenon is not only important from an evolutionary point of view, but also opens up possibilities in the field of the treatment of infectious diseases. Our laboratory is specifically looking for substances that can activate fungal cell death, e.g. for treating Candida infections.
Physiologische Konsequenzen des Alterns und der Neurodegeneration:
In addition to the molecular or cellular mechanisms of aging and autophagy, our laboratory also deals with their physiological consequences on a more complex level. For example, we are interested in how food intake affects the memory of old flies and - in cooperation with Charité Berlin - also affects old people. In addition to cognitive tests, we are also interested in other physiological effects and have e.g. Established a battery of functional tests in flies that allows us to examine genetic models and pharmacological interventions in a wide variety of ways (locomotion, metabolic rate, body mass composition, mitochondrial function, sleep behavior, and many more).
ContactAlterung & Zelltod - Labor Frank Madeo - Sekretariat