Supercomputers are helping tweak antioxidants to stave off age-related
diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's, shows a
The research team, led by Leo Radom and Amir Karton from the
Universities of Sydney and Western Australia, respectively, has used
sophisticated quantum chemistry and supercomputers to design more
Antioxidants work by scavenging free
radicals and other oxidative species, preventing them from damaging the
body's tissues and organs, the Journal of the American Chemical Society
and Nature Chemistry reports.
"The supercomputer modelling allows
us to probe deeply into the molecular structure and helps us to
understand just why carnosine (found in meat, fish and eggs) is such an
effective antioxidant. Armed with this understanding, we are then able
to design even better antioxidants," said Radom, according to a Sydney
and Western Australia statement.
The research team, working
alongside Michael Davies, and David Pattison from the Heart Research
Institute, investigated carnosine's effectiveness in scavenging the
oxidant, hypochlorous acid.
Hypochlorous acid benefit the body
when it is used as part of our immune system to fight off invading
pathogens. However, in excessive levels it has been linked to the
development of heart disease.
"While most people consume wine,
berries and chocolate for an antioxidant boost, we turned on our
computers! We were able to use supercomputers to improve the power of
natural antioxidants and this may provide future benefit to the health
industry," said Karton.