Researchers reverse the aging process for human adult stem cells

Researchers reverse the aging process for human adult stem cells
Scientists have reversed the aging process in human adult stem cells, which are in turn responsible for replacing aged cells throughout the body (Image: Public Library of Science)
Scientists have reversed the aging process in human adult stem cells, which are in turn responsible for replacing aged cells throughout the body (Image: Public Library of Science)
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Scientists have reversed the aging process in human adult stem cells, which are in turn responsible for replacing aged cells throughout the body (Image: Public Library of Science)
Scientists have reversed the aging process in human adult stem cells, which are in turn responsible for replacing aged cells throughout the body (Image: Public Library of Science)

By now, most people are probably aware of the therapeutic value of stem cells, as they can become any other type of cell in the human body. One of their main duties, in fact, is to replace those other cells as they degrade. Once people reach an advanced age, however, even the stem cells themselves start to get old and nonfunctional - when the cells that are supposed to replace the other cells can't do their job anymore, age-related tissue problems start occurring. A team of researchers from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology, however, may be on the way to solving that problem. They have succeeded in reversing the aging process in human adult stem cells.

When regular cells become aged, the caps on the end of their chromosomes (known as telomeres) get shorter. It is therefore hypothesized that many age-related problems are due to the shortening of these telomeres. Given that adult stem cells retain their full telomeres, however, the scientists had to find some other discernible way in which they age.

To do so, they compared the DNA of freshly-isolated adult stem cells from young donors, with that of stem cells from the same donors, but that had undergone an accelerated aging process in the lab. It turned out that most of the DNA damage in the older cells was due to the activity of parts of the cell genome known as retrotransposons. While young cells are able to limit this activity and deal with the damage it causes, older cells are not.

By suppressing the "accumulation of toxic transcripts" from the retrotransposons, however, the researchers were able to reverse the aging process in the older stem cells. They were, in fact, even able to regress them to an earlier stage of development.

The Buck Institute/Georgia Tech team is now looking at how suitable the rejuvenated stem cells may be for treating degenerative disorders such as arthritis, osteoporosis and metabolic syndromes.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Cell Cycle.

Stewart Mitchell
The life expectancy of the future is noted in the bible.
Adam,Methusala, Noah will live nearly 1000 years. This will be as a result of this type of research. Those dudes are meek, but I am sure humans will also live longer.
Jeremy Nasmith
Wow! That\'s huge!
@Stewart, I have to ask you which calendar they used back in those early biblical days of Adam, Methuselah and Noah. And that was before all those nasty bacteria overpopulated the earth and began attacking the higher developed life forms as well don\'chya know? Bring on the stem cell research!
Tim Stevens
This is HUGE.
Personally I am all for research that can get rid of the various debilitating disorders such as autoimmune disorders and effects of disease but I am very against the idea of research that would available to the general population.
My reason is simple. There is simply not enough resources on the planet to support a population that continues to grow and is immortal or at the very least of near immortality compared to today. Continued extension of the human life without control of the population or expansion of the human homes can only result in future wars as the resources are used up.
In many ancient mythologies, humans were once immortal but sterile. The \"devil\" gave humans the ability to reproduce at will and thus ended a life in paradise.
Population I would allow it with are:
1. Space explorers. They would be allowed provided they underwent procedures to provide temporary sterility (microvalves in the vas deferens for males and fallopian tubes for females). This would allow normal sexual relations without possibility of pregnancy during the long trips. It would be hoped that such trips would be with a small community and initially one way.
2. Childless individuals (either due to death of all children or never having had such) that agree to temporary or permanent sterility procedures.
If this technology is perfected and going to be generally available:
1. All new children should be temporarily/permanently sterilized at birth and all currently living individuals be temporarily sterilized.
2. The ability to have children should then be granted only after the population drops below a certain number (I would suggest 1 billion). After that the prospective parents chosen by random selection from first a pool of those that have never had children, and if that pool does not exist (all existing individuals have had at least one child), the entire population.
3. The selection process will include those with physical and mental disorders of genetic origin. This selection must not be a form of eugenics. We all have special abilities that others lack. For some it is analytical skills, others organizations, mathematical, musical, artistic, wisdom, being friendly, being a role model for enduring and overcoming, or just making others smile. These are all valuable abilities and to exclude a person because of a genetic disorder, because they are not perfect, would lessen the total humanity.
If we are not able to live in community with each other and community with our entire planet, I think it would be nice to cure all the disorders but then shorten our lives not extend them.
Ed Reed
With so many retired people struggling to survive on Social Security and political talk about cutting back on Medicare now I don\'t imagin this technology will be available or affordable except for the rich. Some of the nuts out there are cheering about executions and people dying from lack of medical care. I guess if enough of us died earlier we could balance the budget.
J-f Veillette
this is already old news !!!! Nathalie, I am currently taking telomerase activators, who are you to decide what to make public or not ?
William H Lanteigne
@NatalieEGH: How magnanimous of you to \"allow\" some privileged elite to receive life-extending therapies!
If your end goal is to reduce the population, you could simply deny access to affordable health care to poor people- oh, right, that is the ultimate Tea Party goal...
Blair Lawrence
\"Retrotransposons, also known as class I transposable elements, consist of two sub-types, the long terminal repeat (LTR) and the non-LTR retrotransposons.\" More details please!
Blair Lawrence
Stefan Padureanu
Wohohooooh.... People just take a breath for a second. Everyone is already thinking of immortality or adding some insane biblical meaning to all of this.
I\'m no scientist but I do know that stemcell research and this new found cure to aging has little to no effect on the human brain. First of all brain cells don\'t divide, we get born and die with the same amount of them. Secondly if we were to patch our brains up each time we\'d be running short on live neurons I guess that after a couple of hundred years a person would lose his identity somehow turning him into another man in a mental way.
I\'m guessing that this research only helps people live a longer but most of all a healthier life even after retirement, which in turn actually presents the possibility of people that benefit from such medicine to retire later, thus solving the economical problems that some of you have pointed out.
Now regarding world population and resources, how about we learn how to share a bit, as 90% of the worlds money is held by just 1 percent of it\'s population, again, I might be wrong as I\'m no economist either, but you guys get the idea. Also using such technology for space travel is absurd as well, as the amount of time it would take us with current technology to reach other star systems or clusters would most likely render the space craft themselves inert, let alone their crews.
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