Coordinator: Henrique Girão
The increase in life expectancy in developed countries has led, in recent years, to a significant increase in the prevalence of age-related diseases. For example, predictions indicate that by 2050, 20% of the population in Europe will be over 65 years old. Many diseases are age-related, these diseases include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and eye diseases, such as cataract, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy. The molecular mechanisms underlying many of the pathophysiologic changes associated with such diseases remain to be elucidated but are likely to comprise both a genetic pre-disposition and environmental risk factors. Increased production of damaging agents and/or loss of ability of cells to respond to stress are causally related to various age-related diseases. A major goal of this research program is to understand molecular and biological changes that underlying many of these age-related disease. During ageing there is a progressive accumulation of damaged biomolecules in tissues. Cells possess several pathways for degrading and/or recycling damaged proteins. The ability of cells to eliminate damaged or obsolete proteins is a critical factor to ensure cell survival. Currently our groups are performing studies elucidate a new molecular mechanism through which proteins are shuttled between different degradation pathways, such as the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway and chaperone-mediated autophagy.