Mitochondria, the "Force" responsible for supplying life energy, is also one of the most common and essential cellular organelles in the cell. Important as it is, people have long overlooked the question of how to repair its dysfunction. It should be noticed that, mitochondrial dysfunction can easily lead to neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. However, not much attention has been paid to the question of mitochondrial-repair. More in-depth studies are required for better understanding.
Ying Liu, Associate Professor at the Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM) at Peking University, achieved her PhD degree in Biochemistry from UT Southwestern Medical Center, and has been studying mitochondria since her post-doc research at Harvard Medical School with Professor Gary Ruvkun.
As the major organelle that supplies energy in the cell, mitochondria are directly involved in many biological pathways. They are closely related to the metabolism and life span of an organism. For this reason, Liu believes that "this is a great opportunity to make some contribution in this area".
Liu and her team are now studying how cells or living organisms detect mitochondrial dysfunction. Previous studies have shown that many aging-related diseases are associated with mitochondrial damage, such as neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, Liu’s team assumes that when the elderly can no longer activate the mitochondrial stress, mitochondria dysfunction will accumulate, resulting in injury and aging of cells and tissues (such as nervous tissues and cardiovascular tissues), as well as the occurrence of aging.
“A lot of experiments have shown that the activation of mitochondrial stress is very beneficial for prolonging life and delaying aging. Therefore, we expect that by studying mitochondrial stress response, we can achieve control over the activation of mitochondrial stress, and ultimately delay aging and prevent related diseases," Liu says.