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An American research team tested it in mouse models, observing rejuvenating effects in the kidneys and skin, with no apparent adverse health effects.
Age may be just a number, but it brings with it a host of unwanted physical and biological changes, from bone fragility to loss of strength and muscle mass, to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The search for a way to succeed slow down or reverse normal aging processes has always been a challenge for science, which today has opened the doors to some emerging technologies that could represent a possible revolution for the future of experimental medicine. An American team of scientists, in particular, has shown that they can safely and effectively control the aging process in mice by turning back their biological clocks and partially restoring some changes that occur in mature cells.
In a new study, published in Nature Agingthe researchers experimented with various combinations of cellular reprogramming, via what is known as transient induction of gene expression of four transcription factors. – Oct4, Sox2, Kfl4 and c-Myc – also known as Yamanaka factors named after the Japanese scientist Nobel Prize in 2012 and pioneer of the stem cell technique. This same approach, used by Yamanaka to transform adult cells into stem cells, was employed to “partially reprogram“Adult cells and restore them to a younger state, without however returning to the stage of stem cells. Therefore, applying it to a sufficient number of cells could potentially make the biological clock of an entire organism appear younger.
To test this hypothesis, scientists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies Gene Expression Laboratory in La Jolla, California, tested several cell rejuvenation regimens. in healthy mice as they agedlooking at the response to treatment with Yamanaka factors in three groups of animals, depending on age: the first group was treated for one month when they were 25 months (equivalent to about 80 years in humans) while the second and third group were treated long-term, respectively from 15 to 22 months (equivalent to 50-70 years in humans) and from 12 to 22 months (35-70 years in humans).
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The mice treated for just one month showed no signs of reversing aging, but the two groups treated long-term showed evidence of rejuvenation, with no increased risk of cancer or other health problems. The researchers also noted that kidney and skin tissues of these animals were “rejuvenated”, implying a reduction in the expression of genes that cause inflammation, cell death and stress response. The skin was even able to proliferate more and heal less – the opposite of what generally happens in old age. Furthermore, the animals’ epigenetic clocks, a measure of the level of DNA methylation attributed to aging, seemed to have gone backwards.
“In addition to addressing age-related diseases, this approach can provide the biomedical community a new tool to restore tissue and organism healthimproving cellular function and resilience in various pathological situations, such as ndolardegenerative diseases – said to Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, senior co-author of the study and developmental biologist of the Salk Institute -. The technique was shown to be safe and effective, slowing aging in healthy mice“.
While the day when this approach can help humans ward off some of the worst aspects of aging and represent a human “fountain of youth” is probably still a long way off, the technique suggests the possibility of restoring and rejuvenating the function of some. fabrics, as explained in a comment accompanying research by researchers Arianna Markel and George Daley of Boston Children’s Hospital, who were not involved in the study. “It is particularly noteworthy that partial reprogramming successfully induces systemic transcriptomic, metabolomic and lipidomic changes and affects the epigenetic clock – have highlighted the scholars -. Furthermore, observing these findings in a normally aging mouse model provides further evidence that this approach may be beneficial beyond disease states.“.