Collagen is the abundant protein in the human body (there are at least 16 variations but 80-90% belong to types I, II and III in the body). It's the molecule that controls how we will age, and to what extent our features will age and deteriorate. It’s also the molecule that holds our whole body together; in our skin, muscles and tendons. Collagen is strong and flexible too, particularly type I, which is known to be predominantly tensile and even stronger than steel, gram for gram.
Collagen is secreted by a variety of different cells in our body, but primarily by connective tissue cells. The body consistently produces collagen until around the age of 40.
The macromolecule is most commonly found in the skin, bones and connective tissue within the body, providing structural support, strength and a degree of elasticity (in combination with elastin). Particularly, collagen can be found in the extracellular matrix - a complex network of macromolecules that decide the physical properties of body tissues.
|Collagen infographic - Click to enlarge.|
Why do we age?
Why do we age and lose all elasticity in our skin and our features become all wrinkly and unfamiliar?
Everybody worries about ageing, at the first sight of a slight wrinkle or forehead crease, we run to find solutions to prevent / slow down the ageing process. The breakdown of collagen is the main reason why our skin starts to lose its elasticity and show wrinkles.
As we age, especially after 40 years old, collagen production in our body starts to slow down naturally, making the skin lose its elasticity causing sagging skin, formation of lines and wrinkles and the weakening of cartilage in joints.
This is the point where people may start to look for treatments against the ageing process and spending copious amounts of money on anti ageing products.
A new lab technology has emerged which aims to combat the effects of ageing. It is the first of its kind. Published in the 8th March issue of Science the research proves that a single anti-ageing enzyme in the body can be targeted, with the potential to prevent age-related diseases (such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease and type 2 diabetes) and extend life spans.
"Ultimately, these drugs would treat one disease, but unlike drugs of today, they would prevent 20 others," says the lead author of the paper, Professor David Sinclair, from UNSW Medicine, who is based at Harvard University. "In effect, they would slow ageing."
The researchers, partnered with Galaxo Smith Kline, found that the new potential drugs can be administered orally, or topically. So far, there have been no drugs developed targeting ageing skin, but one major skin care range has developed a crème with resveratrol in it (an activator of one of the targeted enzymes in this study).
What do you think is the right age that someone should start using anti-ageing products?
Come back tomorrow to find out what exactly is inside anti ageing creams that makes them work.
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