A new therapy could reverse the aging process by turning back the clock on cells to make them young again, according to a new study.
Scientists from the Salk Institute say the safe and effective technique works by partially resetting cells that impact skin, eyesight, muscles, and the brain. The breakthrough may be able to extend life and help people gain the ability to become more resistant to stress, injury, and disease.
While it may appear to be the Holy Grail of anti-aging research, promising eternal youth, the team cautions that they’ve only successfully tested the treatment on mice so far. Animals at the late stage of their lives treated with cellular rejuvenation therapy started to show signs of getting younger after just seven months.
New tests are now underway to determine whether the treatment only “pauses” or actually reverses aging. In the study, the researchers note that all cells carry a molecular clock that records the passage of time. By adding a mixture of four reprogramming molecules, known as the Yamanaka factors, the cells reset the clock to their original patterns.
The scientists tested three groups of mice at varying ages equivalent to humans being 35, 50, and 80 years-old (12 months, 15 months, and 25 months in mice). There were no blood cell alterations or neurological changes in the mice that received the treatment. The team also found no cancers in any of the groups.
Researchers found after seven or 10 months, the mice resembled younger animals in both appearance and ability. When injured, the youthful skin had a greater ability to heal and was less likely to form permanent scars. Metabolism remained stable, showing no form of age.
“At the end of the day, we want to bring resilience and function back to older cells so that they are more resistant to stress, injury and disease,” says co-first author Dr. Pradeep Reddy of the Salk Institute in a university release. “This study shows that, at least in mice, there’s a path forward to achieving that.”
“We are elated that we can use this approach across the life span to slow down aging in normal animals. The technique is both safe and effective in mice,” adds Professor Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte.
“In addition to tackling age-related diseases, this approach may provide the biomedical community with a new tool to restore tissue and organismal health by improving cell function and resilience in different disease situations, such as neurodegenerative diseases.”
The study is published in the journal Nature Aging.