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.