Scientists from the Salk Institute in the United States have found a new method that could change the way we look at the process of aging.
By manipulating four genes called the "Yamanaka Factors," scientists converted the cells back into their embryonic states, hence "reversing" the aging process.
Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte and colleagues call this process the "in vivo amelioration of age-associated hallmarks."
Turning On The Yamanaka Factors
In previous trials, "turning on" the four genes in live animals resulted in tumors, causing the live specimen to contract cancer and die. In this new study, the researchers found a way to turn on the Yamanaka Factors for a short period of time. It is through this process that the researchers observed the promising results.
After treatment, mice with the rapid-aging disease progeria looked younger both inside and out, showed less spine curvature with age, improved their organ function, and seemed to have fewer molecular signs of aging compared to the untreated mice. Meanwhile, older mice, when subjected to the procedure, showed improved signs of cell regeneration, making them heal faster after injuries compared to untreated mice.
Reversing The Signs Of Aging At The Molecular Level In Humans
Naturally, the cells of mice are completely different from those of humans, but the results are not so different when human cells are subjected to the procedure. While the researchers used human cells in place of a live human subject, the said cells also showed a reversal of the signs of aging on a molecular level.
While the information regarding the Yamanaka Factor's age-reversing capability is nothing new to the scientific community, it is still welcomed as a step toward the prevention, or even reversal, of the more serious and damaging effects of aging.
The Stigma Of Aging
There is much stigma surrounding the natural process of aging. People tend to run away from, or prevent, the more obvious physical changes and even the less obvious mental struggles and deterioration of cognitive processes that come with aging.
While the study may still have a long way to go to be a viable candidate for the anti-aging process, it sheds more light and even hope on the very complex process of aging.