Can we reverse aging soon?
Many people wish that they can reverse their aging and be young again. Of course, this cannot be implemented in reality, but researchers have come a bit closer to this goal in experiments. They managed to reverse the aging of human cells.
The scientists from the University of Exeter succeeded in reversing the aging of human cells. This could be the basis for future anti-degeneration drugs. The results of the study can be viewed in the "PubMed" database in English.
What are senescence cells?
Aging can be seen as a progressive decline in physical function and is often associated with the occurrence of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and dementia. There are many reasons why cells and tissues stop functioning, but a new focus in the biology of aging is the accumulation of senescent cells in the tissues and organs, the experts explain. So-called senescence cells are older cells that no longer function as they should. In addition, they also impair the function of cells around them, the scientists further explain.
What does the removal of senescence cells do?
Removal of these old dysfunctional cells has shown that many features of aging improve in animals. For example, the onset of cataracts was delayed. Researchers still don't fully understand why cells become senescent with age, but DNA damage, in the form of inflammation and impairment of the protective molecules at the end of the chromosomes (telomeres), has already been suspected.
Genes need to be activated in the right place at the right time
An important part of senescence could be the loss of the ability to turn genes on and off at the right time and place, the experts say. As people get older, bodies lose the ability to control how genes are regulated. Every cell in the body contains all the information needed for life, but not all genes are switched on in all tissues or under all conditions. For example, a heart cell can differ from a kidney cell, even though they contain the same genes.
Genes generate different molecular messages
When a gene is activated by signals from inside or outside the cell, it generates a molecular message (called RNA), which contains all the information needed to activate the production of the gene. Over 95 percent of human genes can actually produce different types of messages, depending on the needs of the cell. The decision as to what type of message is produced at a given time is made by a group of approximately 300 proteins, which are called splice factors.
The amount of splice factors decreases with age
As we get older, the amount of splice factors that we can produce decrease. This means that older cells are less able to turn genes on and off to respond to changes in their environment. It has already been found that the values of these important regulators in blood samples from older people and also in isolated senescent cells of different tissue types decrease, the doctors explain.
Hydrogen sulfide can improve characteristics of age-related diseases
The experts looked for ways to reactivate the splice factors. Treating old cells with an active ingredient that releases small amounts of hydrogen sulfide could increase some splice factors and rejuvenate old human cells. Hydrogen sulfide is a molecule that occurs naturally in the human body and has been shown to improve some features of age-related diseases in animals.
Low doses of hydrogen sulfide resulted in fewer side effects
In large quantities, hydrogen sulfide can also be toxic, so doctors had to find a way to deliver hydrogen sulfide directly to the part of the cell where it is needed. A molecule could be brought directly into the mitochondria, the energy in cell-producing structures. As a result, tiny doses could be used, which led to fewer side effects, the experts explain. In the future, molecular instruments could enable scientists to remove senescent cells in living people. This would make it possible to fight several age-related diseases at the same time, the researchers say. (as)