Forget those expensive anti-aging creams. Soon we might be able turn back the biological clock for real.
Some scientists are now saying that there may be ways to stop the inevitable aging process by using certain genes to reset cells. They’ve already done it with mice.
Researchers at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Ca., have published a study in the medical journal, Cell, that details how they use genetic modification to rejuvenate the organs of laboratory mice and increase their lifespan significantly.
One word of caution: The process still hasn’t been transferred to actual humans.
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“Obviously, mice are not humans and we know it will be much more complex to rejuvenate a person,” said Professor Izpisua Belmonte in a statement. But this study shows that aging is a very dynamic and plastic process, and therefore will be more amenable to therapeutic interventions than what we previously thought.”
“This is huge,” Dr. Leonard Guarente, Novartis Professor of Biology and an aging specialist at M.I.T., told The New York Times. “It’s a pretty remarkable finding, and if it holds up it could be quite important in the history of aging research.”
This latest entry into aging research follows ground-breaking work by Nobel Prize winning biologist Shinya Yamanaka, who identified genes that could reset cells as far back as their embryotic state.
The Salk researchers used “partial reprogramming” by taking only a small dose of the factors Yamanaka identified without reverting them all the way back. The goal was to rejuvenate the cells while maintaining identity.
During the initial tests, prematurely aging mice saw longevity increase by about 30 percent over untreated mice, with follow-up tests of skin cells then showing that, even with this rejuvenation, skin cells retained their identity The researchers also tested their hypothesis on healthy mice, who showed both rejuvenation and improved muscle generation.