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University of Wisconsin–Madison

80 to 25: Age Reversal in Mice

Scientists have been able to partially reverse aging in mice. Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston discovered that by reactivating an enzyme called telomerase, it can repair and revitalize the genes it affects, called telomeres.

Telomeres sit on chromosomes and act like the plastic caps on shoe laces and as humans age, the telomeres shorten because cells stop dividing. Scientists know that telomerase, at low levels, can work against telomeres but Dr. DePinho thought that maybe a reactivation — or higher levels– could reverse the affect. Their experiment was successful and the mice who had many ills associated age, like organ decay, were reversed.

While this discovery has a lot of potential to change the way people age, it comes with many questions and risks. For example, reactivating enzymes and changing the natural progression of cell degradation can cause cancer, which is at the most simple level the uncontrollable replicating of cells. For scientists, solving telomeres is only the first step in the journey of age reversal.

Check out the full article from the Wall Street Journal at Aging Ills Reversed in Mice.

Curious about the aging process? Check out WYNC’s Radiolab’s Podcast (section 2 linked): Radiolab Founation of Youth.

Elizabeth Huggins

Graduate Student

4 thoughts on “80 to 25: Age Reversal in Mice

  1. There is a substantial amount of research detailing the relationship between telomere length and cellular health; long telomeres are associated with youthfulness and vitality while shortened telomeres have been linked to cancer.

    The author of the below article speculates that cancer could be a consequence of aging i.e. with enough cellular divisions the telomeres almost inevitably shorten and the likelihood of cancer steadily increases:

    http://www.livingfithealthyandhappy.com/2011/06/shortened-telomeres-increase-cancer-risk-meta-analysis.html

    Nonetheless, telomeres remain an important area of scientific research as they play a role in our health and survival.

  2. Genetics are awesome….. i wonder is it telomeres is the key of long aging and vitality? because must be the other part of chromosome must be take contribute to health and longevity
    i have read about telomeres, the structure of chromosome are vurnerable with short telomeres because it will crash or "eating" by enzim.

  3. This is a very informative article, the problem lies with the companies since they package and write different things on the packaging. Processed sugars and chemicals contribute to unhealthiness. Its paramount that we stick to natural foods. Thanks for sharing this great article

  4. A well-written, informative article. Genetics never seizes to amaze me, combined with the fast developement and release of new scientific information.

    Thanks for sharing such a great article.