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Study suggests sugary diet endangers waste-eating protein crucial to cellular repair

Results have potential applications to cut risk of age-related degenerative diseases
January 26, 2021

A protein that functions like the vintage video game Pac-Man, eating toxic cellular waste caused by high sugar intake, is itself compromised by a sugary diet, according to the results of a study in mice with potential implications for humans. The study, led by a research team at Tufts University joined by researchers at eight other institutions, appears in Aging Cell.

The protein alleviates age-related cellular damage stemming from too much sugar consumption, according to the study findings. “This is a ‘double jeopardy’ impact. On one hand, proteins are damaged by excess sugars and must be removed to avoid toxic effects on cells. On the other hand, the very protein that works to remove and repair our cells from a high sugar diet is itself vulnerable to sugar, leaving cells threatened,” said Allen Taylor, co-last author and lead scientist at the Nutrition & Vision Research Team at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (USDA HNRCA).