SENS4, Session 5: Eliminating recalcitrant intracellular molecules: the lysosome

Jeffrey Grubb spoke about new methods for delivering missing enzymes to the lysozomes of patients suffering from lysosomal storage diseases. Several of these should be able to deliver any protein to the lysozome, including novel ones capable of degrading undesirable intracellular molecules that accumulate with age and that normal lysosomes can’t handle – a central goal of the LysoSENS project.

Ana Maria Cuervo spoke about the relationship between autophagy and aging. Rates of autophagy decline with age, and they recently showed that artificially maintaining autophagy at youthful levels in old mouse livers improves their function (which we previously discussed here).

John Schloendorn discussed ongoing work at the SENS Foundation Research Center to develop new enzymes that can degrade harmful intracellular junk that accumulates with age. So far, they have discovered enzymes that can degrade A2E and 7-ketocholesterol, which are implicated in macular degeneration and atherosclerosis, respectively. Their next step will be to construct a drug delivery system to get these enzymes to lysozomes, possibly using methods similar to those of Jeffrey Grub. On the lighter side, Schloendorn also described some of the Center’s methods for building functional lab equipment on the cheap, all good examples for aspiring DIY biologists.

(For an index of coverage of all sessions, see here.)