It may finally be possible to turn back the clock. Scientists at the Salk Institute revealed in a study published in Cell that they can reverse the biological hallmarks of old age though cellular reprogramming.
Human skin cells in a dish were found to look and behave young again using the new approach, which also improved the lifespan (by 30%) and quality of life of both healthy mice and those with progeria, a premature aging disease.
“Our study shows that aging may not have to proceed in one single direction. It has plasticity and, with careful modulation, aging might be reversed,” said Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, senior author of the paper and a professor in Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory.
Scientists used cellular reprogramming in their study, taking care to induce a stem cell-like state for only a short period of time to avoid negative side effects such as organ failure. The study concluded that aging is more susceptible to therapeutic interventions than previously thought, and that the induction of epigenetic changes may be the most promising approach to reversing the signs of aging.
While stressing that the rejuvenation process will be much more complex in a person than in mice, the study noted that therapies may take up to ten years to reach clinical trials.
For more information, visit www.salk.edu.