Starting with photosynthesis, dreaming of extending human life

The sun has an absolute influence on life on Earth. Green plants generate their own necessary nutrients and energy through the light of the sun. Animals obtain nutrients through plants, and all of these go through a cycle and eventually become the driving force for human life. As such, photosynthesis, in which plants generate organic nutrients and energy through the light of the sun, is a basic condition for forming the Earth's ecosystem.


Robert Hoover, Hartmut Michel, and Daizen Hopper wondered what the difference was between photosynthesis in plants and photosynthesis in animals. They revealed the three-dimensional structure of protein molecules by photosynthesis of bacteria and revealed that photosynthesis in plants is similar to photosynthesis in bacteria.


Identification of the molecular and biochemical structure of proteins is the key to solving various unknown diseases. Through photosynthesis research, a new path has been opened for life extension, prevention of aging, and treatment of incurable and incurable diseases.


Three people who succeeded in determining the structure of proteins involved in photosynthesis


Robert Hoover, Hartmut Michel, and Daizen Hopper were both awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This is because, through their joint research, the structure of the protein response center necessary for photosynthesis, which has not been identified so far, has been determined. Proteins involved in photosynthesis deliver nutrients to cells and are related to central functions of the body, such as hormone activity. Their work has led to an important energy technology called artificial photosynthesis and has contributed greatly to understanding the most important chemical reactions on Earth.


At the center of these studies is Hartmut Michel (1948~). Michel discovered bacteriorhodopsin, a type of protein-like bacteria in halobacteria. Afterward, Michel was engrossed in determining the protein membrane of the bacteriorhodopsin. At the time, everyone said it was impossible to determine the protein membrane.


Michelle started research on culturing bacteriorhodopsin by light and received a doctorate from this research. Michelle, who wanted to focus more on bacteriorhodopsin, concentrates on crystallizing membrane proteins, which everyone thought was impossible. As a result, the protein membrane of bacteriorhodopsin can be obtained in three-dimensional form following two-dimensional crystallization.


Dr. Robert Huber (1937-) and Dr. Johann Deisenhofer (1943-) tried to elucidate the structure of proteins involved in photosynthesis while conducting research on myeloma proteins together at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. What they wanted was a three-dimensional crystal structure for the protein molecule of photosynthesis.


Dr. Robert Hoover offered Dr. Michelle a part in their joint research. Dr. Michel thinks that it will not be easy as it is his first attempt to obtain a protein crystal structure by photosynthesis, but he cooperates with them and devotes himself to protein research.


Dream of Life Extension, now it might not be a dream


Robert Hoover has dedicated his life to understanding the structure of life. Finding out the structure of a substance is one of the most basic studies to understand the properties of a substance. Dr. Hoover succeeded in determining the complex atomic structure of proteins using Wilhelm Roentgen's X-rays. He has grown into a world-class authority on protein crystallography.


Dr. Robert Hoover was instrumental in breaking the membranes from 10,000 huge protein atoms and making them pure crystals. Hoover's lab was equipped with the optimal system and equipment to find a method for protein crystallography from the beginning, so the research results were able to come out quickly.


Even after winning the Nobel Prize, they continued their vigorous scientific activities by conducting protein-related research. Daizen Hopper is working as a professor at the University of Texas Howard Shoe Institute for Medical Research and is working on biotechnology research. He predicted that it would be the key to realizing the dream of extending human life by unraveling the secrets of cell membrane protein structure.


Robert Hoover, a former professor at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, is giving lectures and supporting the bio industry. I met Professor Hoover four years ago at the Noble Prize Dialogue Seoul 2017. Even at the age of 81 at the time, he was in good health, running 26 km on a bicycle every day and swimming in the lake in summer.


Professor Hoover believes that research in the field of genetics, including protein research, will soon find a way to overcome aging. He said that he is looking for a way to stop or slow aging through protein analysis and genetic research analysis.


Scientists predict that the human lifespan will increase from 100 years to 150 years due to technological innovations in the future. Protein research is the cornerstone of human longevity. If more human protein structures are revealed based on their research, the human dream of 'immortal longevity' could become a reality rather than a dream.

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