Scientist discovers a procedure to reverse aging

 

Scientists have found a way to reverse aging.  At the Harvard School in Boston, molecular biologist Dr. Ronald DePinho made this breakthrough by working with “telomeres” (protective DNA caps on the end of chromosomes).  The caps have long been implicated as what holds together our chromosomes and keeps them from “unraveling”.  A bit of our telomeres erode each time a cell divides, causing us to age.  Research has shown that people with longer telomeres live longer, whereas those with shorter telomeres age faster and suffer from debilitating diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

A few years back, Dr. DePinho and his research team engineered mice so that they were missing a functioning copy of the gene that regulates the production of telomerase (an enzyme that strengthens telomeres and declines naturally over time.)  The mice generally live about 3 years, but these genetically engineered mice died at 6 months.  At the time of their death they had become infertile with gray hair, and osteoporosis.  Next, DePinho took a group of engineered mice and added back the telomerase gene, but left it inactive.  The scientific team waited 6 months for the mice to age until they were the equivalent of 80 year old humans.  Then they gave the mice a drug that “turned on” the telomerase gene.  After only 1 month, the production of telomerase had stopped the aging process in the mice.  Not only did it stop the aging process, but it REVERSED the premature aging so that the mice became the equivalent of young adults!

Dr. DePinho was blown away at how successful his experimentation had performed.  “We expected to see a slowing or stabilization of aging.  Instead, what we found was a dramatic reversal in aging,” he told CTV.  “The shrunken brains increased, new neurons were formed, the coat hair was restored to a new sheen.”  The mice had a normal life span and were healthier and biologically younger.

There are still questions as to if this kind of an experiment would work on humans.  “This teaches us something fundamental about aging: that aged tissue — even very aged tissue — retains the ability to rejuvenate itself,” Dr. DePinho said.

Dr. DePinho said that it would be possible to treat individuals with rare genetic premature aging syndromes.  He says the findings were worth sharing and appear in the journal Nature.  “The results were so dramatic that we wanted to get them out to the research community as soon as possible so we could inspire the research community to move forward on these findings,” DePinho said.

Whether the discovery would be used to aid the diseased and ill or to extend the lives of only those who could afford the procedure will soon be the argument should the experimentation on humans prove successful.  The one point we can all agree upon, is that this is good news for those of living in these amazing times.

[Via journal NATURE / CTVnews.ca]

 

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA.

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