Scientists discover way to rejuvenate old cells
Posted on 2017-11-15
The human lifespan has almost doubled in the last 100 years. Technological and medical advancements have improved the care we receive when we grow older and stops us dying earlier from now preventable diseases. However, there has been a shift in research from increasing human lifespan to increasing our health span.
Longer life means we spend a lot longer suffering from diseases or physical disabilities. Scientists are now focusing their attention on improving our quality of life as we get older, keeping our cells as healthy as possible.
Anti-aging research looks at ageing as a disease which can be treated and potentially cured. Studies have already been conducted that involves injecting young mice blood into to older subjects.
Now more successful research has been conducted by the University of Exeter. Their findings are published in the journal BMC Cell Biology. Their study focused mainly on reversing ageing in senescent cells, which have lost their telomerase and don't die. As they gradually build up in the body, nearby cells are damaged by them. They have been linked to problems such as diabetes and kidney failure.
Lead researcher Lorna Harries said in an Exeter press release, “Our data suggest that using chemicals to switch back on the major class of genes that are switched off as we age might provide a means to restore function to old cells.”
Past work had shown that splicing factors are important for keeping cells healthy but they become switched off as we age. In their experiment, naturally occurring compounds called, reversatrol analogues, were applied in a cell culture and switched the splicing factors back on, rejuvenating the cells.
“This demonstrates that when you treat old cells with molecules that restore the levels of the splicing factors, the cells regain some features of youth,” Harries explained. “They are able to grow, and their telomeres – the caps on the ends of the chromosomes that shorten as we age – are now longer, as they are in young cells.”
The team hopes that this discovery will help humans age without the possibility of disease that accompanies it. “This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life,” Harries added.
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