So many of us do so much to keep ourselves healthy and live long lives. We exercise, we hydrate, we eat right, and we avoid harmful substances. There are so many things we can do to keep ourselves vital for a long time — there are whole industries aimed just at making us look fit — but time does only move in the one direction. While aging is inevitable and beautiful in most cases, there are many in the scientific community studying it and even trying to reverse aging.
What are the Yamanaka factors?
Scientists behind the breakthrough study used the principles explored by Professor Shinya Yamanaka, winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine. Professor Yamanaka showed that adult stem cells can actually rejuvenate themselves, turn the clock back and make themselves young again, with the addition of a mixture of four molecules, termed the Yamanaka Factors. These have been shown to work on almost any tissue in the body.
The team tested the Yamanaka Factors on lab mice, exposing them to the factors for many months, and found that the ones exposed to the factors displayed many signs of rejuvenation in their skin and kidneys, looking much younger than the mice that didn’t receive the factors.
The factors were tested on mice that were 12 to 15 months old, which puts them at about middle age, when they would start to feel the effects of aging, just like humans. Would this be possible on humans, though?
“In theory, biological age reversal or reduction could be possible. However, we are at very early stages where we need to understand the basic science behind it much better,” said Dr. Tamir Chandra, an expert in the biology of aging at the University of Edinburgh.
Keeping age-related diseases at bay
While an outright fountain of youth is out of reach, for now, a host of other age-related diseases could be treated and even cured using the developments made in this experiment. Alzheimer’s, cancer, brittle bones, and many other conditions are brought on or made inevitable by aging, but there is now more research to help fight them.
Source study: Nature Aging — In vivo partial reprogramming alters age-associated molecular changes during physiological aging in mice