Eventually they all die.
Aging and its consequences have always been something that people wanted to get rid of, which is why many studies have been conducted on this. And the development of technologies has begun to eliminate the physical changes caused by aging. But there is still no permanent solution to the problem of aging.
Anti-aging studies continue, and in March researchers safely reversed the signs of aging in middle-aged mice. They even performed fecal transplants and revealed that transplanting waste from young to old mice reversed some of the hall marks of aging.
Now, according to CNN, molecular biologist David Sinclair and his team at Harvard Medical School have reversed aging in mice by employing proteins that can transform an adult cell into a stem cell. In their first breakthrough, published in late 2020, the team restored damaged retinas of old mice & improved their vision to new born levels.
One day death could be an optional feature. Although it’s still very, very far away.
Reverse aging: A permanent reset of the biological clock
“It’s a permanent reset as far as we can tell, and we believe it could be a universal process that could be applied throughout the body to reset our age,” Sinclair said in the CNN report. “If we reverse aging, these diseases should no longer occur. Today we have the technology to reach hundreds without worrying about getting cancer by 70s, heart disease by 80s, and Alzheimer’s by 90s.
Modern medicine treats the disease but ignores the root cause, “which for most diseases is aging itself,” according to Sinclair. “We know that reversing the age of an organ, such as a rat brain, eliminates the diseases of aging.
There is no more dementia; memory returns.
A safer alternative
The team used two sibling mice in their experiments & genetically modified one of them to age faster. The experimental thesis was: If this were possible, could the reverse also be achieved?
Japanese biomedical researcher Shinya Yamanaka previously led a study in this area and was able to reprogram human adult skin cells to behave like embryonic or pluripotent stem cells. His “induced pluripotent stem cells” later became known as “Yamanaka factors”. The problem with this method, however, was that the adult cells lost their identity when they switched stem cells again.
Another study, published in 2016 by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, erased the signs of aging in mice without erasing the cells’ identity. However, it turned out that the mice used in the research developed cancerous tumors under certain conditions.
And no-body wants cancer.
Reverse-aging mouse brains & muscles
As a result, Sinclair Labs Sinclair have been looking for a safer alternative. Enter Yuancheng Lu, a post doc who chose three of four Yamanaka’s factors & genetically added them to a harm-less virus. The virus was created to deliver Yamanaka factors to damaged retinal ganglion cells in the rear of an elderly mouse eye. The pluripotent genes were activated by giving the mouse an antibiotic after injecting the virus into eye.
“The antibiotic is just a tool. It could really be any chemical, just a way to make sure all 3 genes are turned on,” Sinclair said in the CNN report. “Typically, they’re only turned on in very young, developing embryos, and then turned-off as we get older.
The final results clearly show that the damaged neurons in the eyes of the mice injected with the 3 cells miraculously recovered, even sprouting new axons, or extensions, from eye to brain. Sinclair said his team has reversed aging in the muscles & brains of mice since the initial study and is now working to regenerate a entire body of mouse.
Time will tell what comes next as scientists work to see if these findings work in the human body as well. But it’s okay to feel encouraged and rekindle childhood dreams of extending your finite life, as long as your expectations are and remain realistic.