McLaren remove Tim Goss from chief technical officer position

McLaren have moved aside technical head Tim Goss after the Formula One team’s new car failed to live up to expectations in the opening races of the season.

McLaren issued a statement at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Thursday, without mentioning Goss, confirming a review of technical operations was being carried out as part of a programme ‘to return the team to success’.

The BBC earlier reported that Goss, who had overall responsibility for the chassis side, had been removed from his position.

Tim Goss has been removed from his position as technical director at McLaren

Tim Goss has been removed from his position as technical director at McLaren

Tim Goss has been removed from his position as technical director at McLaren

TOP SIX DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
DRIVER   TEAM   WINS  POINTS 
1. Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari    54
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes    0 45 
3. Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes    40 
4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull    37 
5. Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari    30 
6. Fernando Alonso  McLaren    22 

Goss was one of three top engineers at the team, along with aerodynamics head Peter Prodromou and chief engineering officer Matt Morris.

McLaren said the review ‘addresses a broad range of factors across the organisation.

‘More details will be given in due course. Until that time there will be no further comment,’ they added.

The once-dominant former champions have not won a race since 2012 and finished ninth overall of 10 teams last season, the last of a failed three-year partnership with Honda.

During that time it was a widely-held belief at Woking that the team had one of the best chassis in the sport and was being held back by their under-performing and unreliable Japanese engine.

McLaren switched to Renault power at the end of last year, the same engines that powered Red Bull to three wins in 2017, with Spain’s double world champion Fernando Alonso not alone in having high expectations.

It was another poor qualifying session for McLaren - with both cars eliminated in Q2

It was another poor qualifying session for McLaren - with both cars eliminated in Q2

It was another poor qualifying session for McLaren – with both cars eliminated in Q2

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – FOLLOWING CHINESE GRAND PRIX
TEAM  WINS  POINTS   
1. Mercedes 0 85   
2. Ferrari 84   
3. Red Bull 55   
4. McLaren 28   
5. Renault  25   
6. Toro Rosso  12  
7. Haas  11   
8. Sauber   
9. Force India   
10. Williams   

The aim was to challenge Red Bull and return to the top three.

While currently fourth in the championship, they are only three points ahead of Renault’s factory team and 27 behind Red Bull, who triumphed in China two weeks ago with Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

To rub salt in the wounds, Honda’s engine has shown notable improvement with new partners Toro Rosso.

French rookie Pierre Gasly finished in fourth place for the Red Bull-owned team in Bahrain this month, a better result than anything McLaren achieved in their three years with Honda.

Although Alonso has scored more points in three races (22) than in all of last year (17), McLaren’s best result so far in 2018 is a fifth place.

Alonso, still regarded as one of the sport’s fastest drivers, has also yet to qualify in the top 10 this season.

McLaren announced a management shake-up earlier in April with Zak Brown appointed chief executive with overall responsibility for the team.

Fernando Alonso has earned 22 of McLaren's 28 points in the Formula One season thus far

Fernando Alonso has earned 22 of McLaren's 28 points in the Formula One season thus far

Fernando Alonso has earned 22 of McLaren’s 28 points in the Formula One season thus far

Paul Lambert ‘100% certain’ about his decision to axe Saido Berahino from Stoke squad

  • Paul Lambert has no regrets over exiling Saido Berahino from the Stoke squad
  • Striker Berahino, 24, has been dropped for poor application and timekeeping  
  • Discussions over Berahino’s future will take place at the end of the campaign
  • Jese Rodriguez is also likely to have played his last game for the Potteries club 

Laurie Whitwell for MailOnline

Paul Lambert is ‘100 per cent’ certain about sticking by his decision to exile Saido Berahino for the rest of the season.

Berahino has been sent to train with the Under-23s over poor timekeeping and application and despite Stoke’s struggles in front of goal the striker will not be recalled.

Jese Rodriguez will not be seen in a Stoke shirt again after going AWOL back in Spain with the club attempting to rip up the PSG loanee’s contract.

Stoke manager Paul Lambert has no regrets over his decision to exile striker Saido Berahino

Stoke manager Paul Lambert has no regrets over his decision to exile striker Saido Berahino

Stoke manager Paul Lambert has no regrets over his decision to exile striker Saido Berahino

Jese Rodriguez may not play for Stoke again after going AWOL

Jese Rodriguez may not play for Stoke again after going AWOL

Mame Biram Diouf meanwhile has been praised for his attitude by Paul Lambert

Mame Biram Diouf meanwhile has been praised for his attitude by Paul Lambert

Jese Rodriguez  (left) may not play for Stoke again, unlike team-mate Mame Biram Diouf (right)

Mame Biram Diouf was guilty of a bad miss in the 1-1 draw with Burnley but Lambert says his effort and energy matches his demands and had a resounding answer when asked if he felt satisfied at jettisoning other options.

‘One hundred per cent,’ replied the Scot. ‘I’ve got no qualms whatsoever. It’s my decision and it is right for the football club. That’s the decision I have made.’

Chairman Peter Coates has said earlier Stoke plan to stick with Lambert whatever the outcome of this season and Lambert added: ‘Some players will probably be happy and some not happy, but that’s football.

Paul Lambert's struggling Stoke side are currently second bottom of the Premier League table 

Paul Lambert's struggling Stoke side are currently second bottom of the Premier League table 

Paul Lambert’s struggling Stoke side are currently second bottom of the Premier League table 

‘Whatever decision the club is going to make, it is important for Stoke City. I’m glad to have the chance to re-build it, whatever league we are in. It’s nice to hear.

‘I get on well with everybody here, but I also know it’s a big job.’ 

Discussions on Berahino’s future will take place at the end of the campaign. The 24-year-old was signed for an initial £12million fee in January 2017 but has yet to score for Stoke.

He is playing Under-23 fixtures and watched the Burnley game from the bet365 Stadium stands.

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Man United star Romelu Lukaku films team-mate Alexis Sanchez in the gym

  • Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku hit the gym on Thursday afternoon
  • The Manchester United pair are preparing to face Arsenal on Sunday
  • Alexis Sanchez swapped the Emirates Stadium for Old Trafford in January 

James Dutton For Mailonline

Alexis Sanchez is working hard in the gym as he gets ready to face his old Arsenal team-mates for the first time since joining Manchester United.

The Chilean was filmed hitting the weights by Romelu Lukaku as the pair fine-tuned preparations for their visit to Old Trafford this Sunday.

And after netting his biggest goal to date in a United shirt in the FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham last weekend, Sanchez will be desperate to build further. 

Alexis Sanchez shows off his muscles as he is filmed in the gym by Romelu Lukaku

Alexis Sanchez shows off his muscles as he is filmed in the gym by Romelu Lukaku

Alexis Sanchez shows off his muscles as he is filmed in the gym by Romelu Lukaku

The Manchester United star is getting ready for a reunion with Arsenal this weekend

The Manchester United star is getting ready for a reunion with Arsenal this weekend

The Manchester United star is getting ready for a reunion with Arsenal this weekend

It was just his third goal in 14 appearances under Jose Mourinho after he swapped the Emirates Stadium for Manchester in a deal involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January. 

Lukaku filmed a short video of the 29-year-old and shared it as an Instagram story on social media.

In the video Sanchez flexes his muscles and shows off his bulging biceps as he roars at the camera.

The camera then swings back to Lukaku, who laughs as they as they share a joke together.

The former Arsenal man left in acrimonious circumstances this year after scoring 80 goals in 165 appearances in three-and-a-half years there. 

The Belgian striker sees the funny side of his team-mate's antics as they train in the gym

The Belgian striker sees the funny side of his team-mate's antics as they train in the gym

The Belgian striker sees the funny side of his team-mate’s antics as they train in the gym

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Sweden confirm Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss the 2018 World Cup

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not play in the World Cup, Sweden have confirmed  
  • A statement confirmed the veteran has not come out of retirement for Russia  
  • Ibrahimovic had been thought to be interested in playing again for his country
  • He is Sweden’s record goalscorer but retired from international duty in 2016 

Press Association Sport Staff

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not come out of international retirement to play for Sweden at the World Cup.

The 36-year-old striker, who recently left Manchester United to join the LA Galaxy, had hinted that he might resume his 116-cap career with Sweden, having retired from international duty two years ago.

But in a statement published on the Swedish men’s football team’s official Instagram page on Thursday, national selectors said: ‘A final message: Zlatan will not play at the World Cup.

Sweden have confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not play in this summer's World Cup

Sweden have confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not play in this summer's World Cup

Sweden have confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not play in this summer’s World Cup

‘The men’s national team’s greatest scorer of all time has not returned and will not play.’

National team manager Lars Richt said on svenskfotboll.se: ‘I talked to Zlatan on Tuesday. He said that he has not changed his mind about the national team – it is a no.’

Ibrahimovic, who has also played for the likes of Juventus, Barcelona and Paris St Germain, went to the 2002 and 2006 tournaments and scored 62 goals for Sweden across more than a century of appearances.

Ibrahimovic retired from international duty in 2016 and is Sweden's record men's goalscorer

Ibrahimovic retired from international duty in 2016 and is Sweden's record men's goalscorer

Ibrahimovic retired from international duty in 2016 and is Sweden’s record men’s goalscorer

Earlier this month Ibrahimovic tweeted his belief that his chances of featuring in Russia this summer were ‘skyhoga’, meaning sky high, and he later appeared on the ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ talk show to claim: ‘I’m going to the World Cup, yes.’

On Wednesday he posted a video on Twitter which portrayed him coolly observing an incoming phone call from ‘Janne’ – potentially referring to Sweden head coach Janne Andersson.

Sweden, who beat Italy in a qualifying play-off to reach the finals, are in the same group as world champions Germany, Mexico and South Korea.

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Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha is no diver, says Roy Hodgson

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has insisted Wilfried Zaha’s integrity cannot be questioned and said players with the forward’s ability are ‘worth their weight in gold’.

Zaha was forced to defend himself after receiving a yellow card for diving in last Saturday’s goalless draw at Watford.

He received a fourth yellow card for simulation since the start of the 2015-16 – more than any other player in that time period – as his penalty appeal was turned down.

Wilfried Zaha has been defender by Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson over his alleged dive

Wilfried Zaha has been defender by Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson over his alleged dive

Wilfried Zaha has been defender by Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson over his alleged dive

Hodgson says the Ivory Coast international is the sort of player who is scrutinised for his willingness to run at, and invite challenges from, opponents, something the Eagles boss says should be praised, not criticised.

‘I have no doubts in my own mind about him as a player and his honesty and desire to score goals and play the game properly,’ Hodgson said.

‘He’s a great runner with the ball, he’s very brave, he takes people on and he goes into areas where there are bodies and it hurts players to go in.

‘As a result those players, unfortunately, are always the ones who get accused of cheating because they get fouled and people want to discuss “was it a foul or was it not a foul?”.’

Zaha was wrongly denied a penalty in the second half against Watford and instead booked

Zaha was wrongly denied a penalty in the second half against Watford and instead booked

Zaha was wrongly denied a penalty in the second half against Watford and instead booked

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Hodgson pointed to similar criticism of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Dele Alli of Tottenham and says such flair players will always be judged differently.

‘Players with that level of dribbling ability and that bravery to go in constantly and take people on in the penalty box and risk the fouls and risk the kicks are worth their weight in gold,’ he added.

Palace are unbeaten in three games and enter this weekend’s fixtures, where they play Leicester, in 14th place in the Premier League with 35 points, six points clear of the relegation zone.

The Eagles then meet Stoke and West Brom, who occupy two of the bottom three places, in their final two games of the season.

Three points against Leicester at Selhurst Park should be enough to see Palace stay up, but Hodgson wants to finish with a flourish to be certain.

‘Thirty-eight points would seem to me to be quite a good total this year, with so many teams not close to that,’ he added.

‘(But) it’s going to take more than three points to make sure we are mathematically safe.

‘As far as we’re concerned it’s a question of trying to make certain – win each of the three matches available and take no chances.’

Zaha faces accusations of diving and has been booked four times for simulation since 2015

Zaha faces accusations of diving and has been booked four times for simulation since 2015

Zaha faces accusations of diving and has been booked four times for simulation since 2015

Flamengo supporter gets whole club shirt tattooed onto his body 

  • Jose Mauricio dos Anjos got Flamengo’s 2015 shirt inked on his torso
  • It took 92 hours across 32 sessions to complete the elaborate artwork
  • The 33-year-old insists he has no regrets over his display of support 

Spencer Morgan For Mailonline

Football supporters have plenty of ways of showing their love for their clubs but one Flamengo fan has taken things to a whole new level. 

Millions of people across the world buy and wear the replica shirts of their favourite teams but Jose Mauricio dos Anjos went one step further by getting his side’s shirt tattooed on his body.

The die-hard Flamengo follower got the Brazilian outfit’s 2015 top inked on himself with only the kit sponsors missing from the artwork.

Brazilian Flamengo fan Jose Mauricio dos Anjos got the team's 2015 shirt inked on his torso

Brazilian Flamengo fan Jose Mauricio dos Anjos got the team's 2015 shirt inked on his torso

Brazilian Flamengo fan Jose Mauricio dos Anjos got the team’s 2015 shirt inked on his torso

It took 92 hours across 32 sessions to complete the 33-year-old's elaborate show of support

It took 92 hours across 32 sessions to complete the 33-year-old's elaborate show of support

It took 92 hours across 32 sessions to complete the 33-year-old’s elaborate show of support

It took a whole year, with 32 sessions over 90 hours, to transform the 33-year-old’s torso and he is delighted with the results.

‘I always wanted to have a Flamengo tattoo, ever since I became a fan as a child… I got a vulture (the team mascot) with the Flamengo shield on my biceps,’ Dos Anjos told Vice.

‘Last year, I decided to get a tattoo of the jersey, which is something I’d actually been wanting to get for a while.

‘But I thought it would be too expensive – between R$10,000 (£2,000) and R$15,000 (£3,000). So I chose to get something smaller, that covered only part of my shoulder and chest. The tattoo artist asked for R$800 (£165), but as we chatted he told me he’d do the entire jersey at no extra cost, just for the exposure.’

And the passionate Brazilian, who has become somewhat of a minor celebrity in Rio de Janiero, insists he has never looked back. ‘Trust me, I never felt any regret,’ he added.

Dos Anjos has been making headlines in Rio de Janeiro after getting the incredible tattoo

Dos Anjos has been making headlines in Rio de Janeiro after getting the incredible tattoo

Dos Anjos has been making headlines in Rio de Janeiro after getting the incredible tattoo

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Manchester United stars Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and David De Gea host youngsters for dream day

  • Manchester United hosted their dream day at the Aon Complex training ground
  • David De Gea, Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku were all present
  • United are gearing up for Sunday’s Premier League clash at home to Arsenal 

Robert Cottingham For Mailonline

Manchester United welcomed youngsters to their Aon Complex training ground as they celebrated their foundation’s dream day on Thursday. 

Seriously ill children and adults met with Red Devils stars including Paul Pogba, David De Gea, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku at Carrington. 

The event takes place twice a season and sees United stars meet and pose with supporters who are suffering from life-limiting illnesses. 

Manchester United No 1 David De Gea with nine-year-old Caitlin

Manchester United No 1 David De Gea with nine-year-old Caitlin

Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku with fan Jacob

Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku with fan Jacob

David De Gea, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku pose with young supporters on Thursday

Youth products Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard were also in attendance while the likes of Antonio Valencia, Juan Mata and Chris Smalling to make it a memorable day for United supporters. 

United are currently gearing up for Sunday afternoon’s home clash with Arsenal, the first meeting between the two sides since Arsene Wenger announced he would be stepping down as Gunners boss at the end of the season. 

Wenger and former Sir Alex Ferguson held a long-standing rivalry around the early 2000s when Arsenal and United were consistently competing for league titles. 

Paul Pogba was another Manchester United in attendance for the foundation's dream day

Paul Pogba was another Manchester United in attendance for the foundation's dream day

Paul Pogba was another Manchester United in attendance for the foundation’s dream day

Juan Mata poses with nine-year-old George and 10-year-old Jake at the Aon Complex 

Juan Mata poses with nine-year-old George and 10-year-old Jake at the Aon Complex 

Juan Mata poses with nine-year-old George and 10-year-old Jake at the Aon Complex 

And Wenger will come up against another familiar adversary in Jose Mourinho on Sunday, in what will be the final meeting between the rival managers. 

Sanchez, who joined United from Arsenal in the January transfer window, spoke ahead of Sunday’s match about the differences between the two clubs.  

‘It is very different here,’ Alexis told MUTV as he prepared to face the Gunners for the first time since leaving. ‘I think United is a club with more history and we want to win trophies next year.

Defender Antonio Valencia smiles alongside Scott as United hosted their bi-annual dream day

Defender Antonio Valencia smiles alongside Scott as United hosted their bi-annual dream day

Defender Antonio Valencia smiles alongside Scott as United hosted their bi-annual dream day

Youth product Marcus Rashford was present during the heart-warming day at Carrington

Youth product Marcus Rashford was present during the heart-warming day at Carrington

Youth product Marcus Rashford was present during the heart-warming day at Carrington

‘We need to keep progressing; United is a big club, to which I am still adapting, and I am looking forward to giving everything I’ve got next year and aiming to win everything there is to win.’ 

United then face Premier League matches against Brighton, West Ham and Watford before the FA Cup final clash with Chelsea to round off the campaign.

Mourinho’s men conceded the Premier League title to rivals Manchester City this month with a shock 1-0 home defeat by West Brom. 

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Keith Curle to leave Carlisle at the end of the season

  • Keith Curle took over at Carlisle back in September 2014
  • The ex-Manchester City captain led them to the play-off last season
  • But Carlisle are guaranteed to finish outside League Two’s top seven 

Press Association Sport Staff

Keith Curle will leave his role as Carlisle manager at the end of the season, the club have announced.

The 54-year-old took over the Cumbrians in September 2014, replacing Graham Kavanagh with the club bottom of League Two.

Curle guided the club to safety with a 20th-placed finish before leading them to 10th the following season.

Keith Curle could not repeat last season's play-off finish at Carlisle

Keith Curle could not repeat last season's play-off finish at Carlisle

Keith Curle could not repeat last season’s play-off finish at Carlisle

The former England international then took Carlisle into the League Two play-off semi-final where they suffered a 6-5 aggregate defeat by Exeter having led the fourth tier for the majority of the season.

A Carlisle statement announcing Curle’s departure read: ‘Following a meeting with club directors yesterday, Keith Curle has decided to move on and further his career elsewhere and will therefore leave the club at the end of the current season.

‘He will manage the last two games and will assist the club with its retained list for the 2018-19 season.

‘The directors and staff would like to thank Keith for his contribution over the last three-and-three-quarter years and wish him well for the future.’

Carlisle currently sit 10th in League Two, eight points adrift of the play-off places with two matches remaining.

Curle captained Manchester City in the 1990s during a lengthy playing career

Curle captained Manchester City in the 1990s during a lengthy playing career

Curle captained Manchester City in the 1990s during a lengthy playing career

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Two million Britons take medicine that may increase dementia risk

Medicines taken by up to two million Britons may increase the chance of dementia.

A study highlighted a 30 per cent higher risk from some drugs prescribed for depression, bladder problems and Parkinson’s.

The medicines – anticholinergics – have already been linked to falls, confusion and memory problems in the elderly. The latest research found they were more likely to cause dementia – if taken for at least a year.

New research by the University of East Anglia suggests that anticholinergics may have triggered some 20,000 cases out of 850,000 in the UK 

New research by the University of East Anglia suggests that anticholinergics may have triggered some 20,000 cases out of 850,000 in the UK 

New research by the University of East Anglia suggests that anticholinergics may have triggered some 20,000 cases out of 850,000 in the UK 

It suggests anticholinergics may have triggered around 20,000 cases of dementia – out of a national total of 850,000.

The researchers said their results did not prove that some anticholinergics caused the illness.

But they warned that doctors should consider the long-term effects when prescribing them.

The chance of a random individual developing dementia is roughly 10 per cent. But taking anticholinergics was found to increase the risk to 13 per cent.

Published in the British Medical Journal, the study was the largest of its kind to look at the link between the drugs and dementia.

Anticholinergics work by blocking a chemical messenger in the brain called acetylcholine, which can affect moods, movement and the bladder.

One in five people on anti-depressants are prescribed anticholinergics – the most common being amitriptyline. Others include dosulepin and paroxetine. The extra dementia risk was also found for medications prescribed for bladder conditions – such as tolterodine, oxybutynin and solifenacin and Parkinson’s drugs, such as procyclidine. The study looked at the medical records of 300,000 patients over 65 – of whom 40,770 had a dementia diagnosis.

Dr George Savva, who led the research at the University of East Anglia’s school of health sciences, said: ‘We found that people who had been diagnosed with dementia were up to 30 per cent more likely to have been prescribed specific classes of anticholinergic medications.

The research was published in the British Medical Journal and looked at the effects of drugs used to control moods, movement and even the bladder

The research was published in the British Medical Journal and looked at the effects of drugs used to control moods, movement and even the bladder

The research was published in the British Medical Journal and looked at the effects of drugs used to control moods, movement and even the bladder

‘And the association with dementia increases with greater exposure to these types of medication.’ Doug Brown of the Alzheimer’s Society, which sponsored the research, said: ‘Guidelines for doctors say that anticholinergic drugs should be avoided for frail older people because of their impact on memory and thinking, but doctors should consider these new findings for all over-65s as long-term use could raise the risk of dementia.’

Dr Noll Campbell, a study co-author, said the results suggested doctors should prioritise alternatives to anticholinergic medications long before symptoms of dementia appear.

Chris Fox, a UEA professor and consultant psychiatrist, said: ‘While the associations are moderate, given the high incidence of dementia, they reflect a potentially important risk to patients.

‘Doctors and patients should therefore be vigilant about using anticholinergic medications.

‘They need to consider the risk of long-term cognitive effects, as well as short-term effects, associated with specific drugs when weighing up risks and benefits.’

Separately, the study gave a clean bill of health to antihistamines. Previous research has suggested anticholinergics, which include hayfever medications, could also increase the risk of dementia.

But the study said there was no higher risk. 

But no reason to panic, say doctors  

Dr Carol Routledge of Alzheimer's Research UK warned patients against stopping taking the drugs

Dr Carol Routledge of Alzheimer's Research UK warned patients against stopping taking the drugs

Dr Carol Routledge of Alzheimer’s Research UK warned patients against stopping taking the drugs

Doctors yesterday warned patients against coming off the drugs linked to higher dementia risk.

They said anyone concerned should talk to their GP first. ‘Anticholinergics can have many beneficial effects which doctors need to weigh against any potential side effects,’ said Dr Carol Routledge of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

‘Anybody concerned about their current medication should speak to a doctor before stopping a course of treatment.’

Clive Ballard, who is professor of age-related diseases at the University of Exeter, warned that some patients might be taking more than one anticholinergic drug.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said in a statement: ‘Patient safety is our highest priority and we continuously monitor the safety of all medicines on the UK market. These findings will be carefully evaluated, as with any study, to determine whether they have any implications for the safe use of anticholinergic medicines.’

Decoded: Enzyme that could stop ageing

An enzyme thought to halt ageing in plants, animals and humans has finally been decoded by scientists after a 20-year plight.

Unravelling the structure of the complex enzyme, called telomerase, could lead to drugs that slow or block the ageing process, along with new treatments for cancer, they reported in the journal Nature.

Elated scientists announced Wednesday the completion of a 20-year quest to map the enzyme thought to forestall ageing by repairing the tips of chromosomes.

‘It has been a long time coming,’ lead investigator Kathleen Collins, a molecular biologist at the University of California in Berkeley, said in a statement.

‘Our findings provide a structural framework for understanding human telomerase disease mutations, and represent an important step towards telomerase-related clinical therapeutics.’

Decoding the architecture of the enzyme, called telomerase, could lead to drugs that slow or block the ageing process, along with new treatments for cancer

Decoding the architecture of the enzyme, called telomerase, could lead to drugs that slow or block the ageing process, along with new treatments for cancer

Decoding the architecture of the enzyme, called telomerase, could lead to drugs that slow or block the ageing process, along with new treatments for cancer

Part protein and part RNA (genetic material that relays instructions for building proteins) telomerase acts on microscopic sheaths, known as telomeres, that cover the tips of the chromosomes found inside all cells.

In humans, each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, including one pair of sex chromosomes – the ‘X’ and ‘Y’ – that differ between males and females.

Australian-American biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering telomeres and their protective function in the 1970s, likened them to the tiny plastic caps that keep shoelaces from fraying.

Eventually, however, shoelace tips and telomeres do break down: every time a cell divides the telomeres get worn a little bit more, until the cell stops dividing and dies. This, biologists agree, is probably central to the natural ageing process.

But there is a twist.

In 1985, Blackburn discovered telomerase and its remarkable capacity to extend a cell’s lifespan by essentially rebuilding telomeres with extra bits of DNA, much in the same way that retreading a tyre can make it nearly as good as new.

The enzyme telomerase, in other words, was revealed to be a key agent in longevity.

It can also be linked to disease.

‘Inherited genetic mutations that compromise telomerase function cause disorders,’ said Michael Stone, a professor at the Center for Molecular Biology or RNA at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

A deficiency of the enzyme could accelerate cell death.

At the other extreme, too much telomerase ‘supports unbridled cell growth in most human cancers,’ he wrote in a commentary, also in Nature.

But early efforts to develop drugs that could control the enzyme’s functioning ‘were hampered by an incomplete understanding of the structure and organisation of the telomerase complex,’ Stone added.

Telomerase complex: The enzyme's protein structure was a tough code to crack, despite telomerase being discovered in 1985

Telomerase complex: The enzyme's protein structure was a tough code to crack, despite telomerase being discovered in 1985

Telomerase complex: The enzyme’s protein structure was a tough code to crack, despite telomerase being discovered in 1985

To crack the telomerase code, Collins and her team used a state-of-the-art cryoelectron microscope (Cryo-EM) to see the enzyme in action at unprecedented resolutions of seven or eight’angstroms, a device which won its developers the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

An angstrom is one ten-billionth of a metre long.

‘When I got to the point where I could see all the subunits – we had 11 proteins in total – it was a moment of ‘Wow! Wow! This is how they all fit together’,’ said lead author Thi Hoang Duong Nguyen, a post-doc at UC Berkeley’s Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science.

A 2010 study showed that ageing could be reversed in mice that were treated with telomerase.

And in 2011, scientists found a way to transform age-worn cells from people over 90 into rejuvenated stem cells indistinguishable from those found in embryos.

In lab experiments, several critical markers of ageing in cells were ‘reset’, including the size of telomeres.