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Saturday, December 17, 2016

“The phenomenon is striking, that aging is reversible.”

Cecile G. Tamura
Turning back the clock through cellular reprogramming
The same four molecules that revolutionized research on stem cells can also reverse aging in mice, scientists reported Thursday, a finding that could herald new approaches to trying to extend human life.
The four molecules became biological superstars a decade ago, when Kazutoshi Takahashi and Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University reported that they made adult cells growing in lab dishes essentially travel back in time, becoming embryonic stem cells — with the capacity to produce any of the organs or tissues in the body.
Although the discovery is unlikely to find its way into medical practice for years, if ever, it is a significant advance in understanding the basic biology of aging at the molecular and cellular level, experts said, and might eventually lead to ways to slow that process in a way that not only extends lifespan but also “healthspan,” the number of years someone can live without the usual diseases that accompany multiplying birthday candles.
Biologist Lenny Guarente of MIT, a prominent aging researcher who was not involved in the study, called the discovery “rather amazing” but cautioned that it is brand-new and so must be confirmed. That the four molecules “exert a system-wide effect on aging in whole, adult animals is remarkable,” he said, “and if this turns out to be true it would be a breakthrough.”