In experiments simulating skin wounds, partially rejuvenated cells showed signs of behavior more like young cells. Experts suggest research could lead to new drugs
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Researchers have reversed the aging of human skin cells by 30 years, according to a new study.
Scientists say they have developed a method to reprogram human skin cells by rewinding the aging clock without the cells losing function.
American researchers describe being able to partially restore the function of older cells in a laboratory.
In experiments simulating skin wounds, partially rejuvenated cells showed signs of behavior more like young cells.
Experts suggest the research could lead to new drugs.
Professor Wolf Reik, group leader at Altos Labs Cambridge Institute, said: “This work has some very exciting implications.
“Eventually, we may be able to identify genes that rejuvenate without reprogramming, and specifically target those that reduce the effects of aging.
“This approach holds promise for valuable discoveries that could open up an incredible therapeutic horizon.”
Co-author Dr Diljeet Gill said: “Our results represent a major step forward in our understanding of cellular reprogramming.
“We have proven that cells can be rejuvenated without losing their function and that rejuvenation seeks to restore certain functions of old cells.
“The fact that we also found a reversal of aging indicators in disease-associated genes is particularly promising for the future of this work.”
The new method based on the technique used by scientists to make stem cells overcomes the problem of completely erasing cell identity by stopping reprogramming mid-process.
This allowed the researchers to biologically rejuvenate the cells while retaining their specialized cellular function.
They say the potential applications of this technique depend on cells not only looking younger, but also functioning like young cells.
The research is published in the journal eLife.