Signs of Aging in Mice Reversed
Age can be just a number. But that number comes with undesirable side effects, from brittle bones to weaker muscles, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Now researchers at the Salk Institute, along with scientists at Genentech, a Roche group, show that they can safely and effectively reverse the aging process in middle-aged and aged mice by partially reverting cells to their younger state.
“We found that by using this approach across the lifespan, we were able to slow down aging in normal animals,” says co-author Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, who works in the Salk Laboratory of Gene Expression. “The method is both safe and effective in mice. In addition to addressing age-related issues, this approach could offer the biomedical community a new tool to restore tissue and living health by improving cell function and resistance in different disease states such as neurodegenerative diseases.”
As living things age, not only their appearance and health change. Every cell they carry in their bodies carries a molecular clock that records the passage of time. Cells isolated from older people or animals carry different chemical patterns in their DNA compared to younger people or humans (see epigenetic markers). Scientists know that adding a mixture of four reprogramming molecules (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and cMyc), also known as “Yamanaka factors”, to cells can return these epigenetic marks to their original patterns. In their new study, the researchers used this approach, turning adult cells into stem cells. The findings are presented in the journal Nature Aging.