Medical

Gene "reboots" stem cells to slow or reverse the aging process

Gene "reboots" stem cells to s...
The embryonic gene, Nanog, has been shown to replenish the ability of adult stem cells to regenerate, which could be used to slow or even reverse the aging process in humans
The embryonic gene, Nanog, has been shown to replenish the ability of adult stem cells to regenerate, which could be used to slow or even reverse the aging process in humans
View 4 Images
Functioning adult stem cells
1/4
Functioning adult stem cells
Adult stem cells that are no longer functioning
2/4
Adult stem cells that are no longer functioning
Stem cells which are functioning again, after being "rebooted" by the Nanog gene
3/4
Stem cells which are functioning again, after being "rebooted" by the Nanog gene
The embryonic gene, Nanog, has been shown to replenish the ability of adult stem cells to regenerate, which could be used to slow or even reverse the aging process in humans
4/4
The embryonic gene, Nanog, has been shown to replenish the ability of adult stem cells to regenerate, which could be used to slow or even reverse the aging process in humans
View gallery - 4 images

Aging affects everyone, so it's no surprise that fighting it gets so much attention from scientists. A new study, centering on an embryonic stem cell gene known as Nanog, was found to restore the regenerative properties of adult stem cells, which naturally diminish over time. According to the researchers, this process has the potential to slow or even reverse the effects of aging, as well as combat premature aging disorders such as progeria.

Previous research into slowing the aging process has involved blocking pathways in the brain that produce certain protein complexes, switching back on genes that have been turned off due to epigenetic regulation, and activating a gene that increased the lifespan of common fruit flies.

This new study, by researchers from University at Buffalo (UB), focused on adult stem cells, nonspecialized cells that are found throughout the body and can rush in to replenish dying cells as required. The problem is, as people get older, these stem cells become less and less effective, which results in the well-known symptoms and disorders of aging.

Introducing Nanog into aged stem cells triggered a chain reaction that helps those cells regain their former regeneration abilities. First, Nanog opened two key cellular pathways, known as Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) and Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β). As a result, dormant proteins called actin are reactivated, which provide the stem cells with the structure needed to form muscle cells that can contract. The force these cells generate helps improve the regeneration capabilities of the adult stem cells.

Stem cells which are functioning again, after being "rebooted" by the Nanog gene
Stem cells which are functioning again, after being "rebooted" by the Nanog gene

The team conducted tests on three different samples of cells aged in different ways: cells taken from aged donors, cells aged in culture in the lab, and those isolated from patients suffering from Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that ages sufferers at an accelerated rate. The Nanog gene was found to work in all three cases.

"Not only does Nanog have the capacity to delay aging, it has the potential in some cases to reverse it," says Stelios Andreadis, one of the authors of the study.

Nanog was also shown to activate the central regulator of muscle formation, serum response factor (SRF), which suggests that the same effect could be achieved in skeletal, cardiac and other muscles types. The researchers are now working to identify drugs that can replicate or mimic the effects of Nanog.

The research was published in the journal Stem Cells.

Source: University at Buffalo

View gallery - 4 images
6 comments
Mzungu_Mkubwa
Eternal youth will be discovered and made available to all just days after I die. :-/
ezeflyer
Please hurry and mass produce it before I get any older.
habakak
This will just be another dead-end we never hear of again. The human body and brain is infinitely complex. It just never is this simple. Hope is not a strategy.
guzmanchinky
Aaaaaand, we'll never hear about it again. Just like all the other miracle battery/hair regrowth/youth breakthroughs. Why?
Arahant
Just because they discover something like this and you dont hear about it again doesnt mean its BS. The human body is complex and in this case we only tested the effect on cells in a petri dish... what happens when its released into the whole body? it could have unintended consequences. Thats why alot of stuff we read on here, will likely not be publicly available for 5-10 years... especially biological/medical stuff, there is a huge convoluted system that stuff has to go through to get approved for public consumption. This is very promising though, i personally think that we might be living in a generation that could live forever. All we need to do is extend life in increments long enough until we figure out how to stop ageing all together. Im not that old but its possible i might miss the boat, however I think at the very least people being born today could most likely live for 200-400 years, if not forever.
RichardDuncan
There are already too many people without jobs. And soon most jobs will be done using robots far more efficiently than people. Things die for a reason. If people live forever, where will all these people live? What will all these people do? If such a thing were possible, the rich and greedy would find a way to monetize it and create an entry level so high that only they could live forever.