Scientists Reverse Aging Process in Mice

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 08:41 AM

Scientists have reversed the aging process in mice, an experiment that may have implications for humans.
By altering a gene in prematurely aged mice, scientists restored the animals’ fertility and sense of smell, and reversed their brain disease — something that’s never been done before, the Wall Street Journal reports. What’s not known is whether the work on the genetically engineered mice can be applied to slow the aging process in people.
"These mice were equivalent to 80-year-old humans and were about to pass away," says Ronald DePinho, co-author of the paper and a scientist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. After the experiment, "they were the physiological equivalent of young adults."
The researchers’ work focused on telomerase, an enzyme that makes small units of DNA that seal the tips of chromosomes. Those units, known as telomeres, work to keep the chromosomes from fraying and the genes inside them from unraveling. With aging, telomeres become shorter resulting in a cessation of cell division. This causes brain atrophy and the brain cell death.
Scientists wanted to see if they could stop or reverse the shortening of telomeres in mice by reactivating telomerase, which is linked to the erosion of telomeres in the aging process. By doing this, they hoped to reverse the aging process.
Researchers used an estrogen-based drug that turned on the mice’s dormant telomerase gene (TERT). A month after inserting it under the mice’s skin, the animals’ telomeres grew, as did their levels of telomerase. And the mice’s health showed signs of reinvigoration.
To read the complete Wall Street Journal story — Go Here Now.

© HealthDay

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Tuesday, 30 November 2010 08:41 AM
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