News / Science & Technology

US Scientists Reverse Signs of Aging in Mice

Elderly mice restored to middle age

Harvard scientists say they were able to reverse signs of aging in mice by tweaking a gene which protects cells from the harmful, cumulative effects associated with growing old.
Harvard scientists say they were able to reverse signs of aging in mice by tweaking a gene which protects cells from the harmful, cumulative effects associated with growing old.
Jessica Berman

Scientists say they have reversed age-related degeneration in mice, resulting in an improvement in the rodents' fertility and the growth of new brain tissue. But it could be some time before the technique might be used in humans.

Fountain of youth

Scientists at Harvard University's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston report they were able to reverse signs of aging in mice by tweaking a gene that protects cells from the harmful, cumulative effects associated with growing old.

The gene is involved in the production of structures at the tips of DNA chromosomes called telomeres.

Telomeres are like the plastic caps on the ends of shoe laces that keep them from becoming frayed. In the case of chromosomes, the telomeres protect the strands of DNA from environmental assaults such as chemical and radiation exposure.

But every time a cell divides, its telemeres shorten, eventually leading to DNA damage and aging.

In studies with mice, researchers switched off the telomerase gene and watched the rodents rapidly develop age-related impairments.

Eternally young?

However, when they turned the genes back on on, the animals' declines reversed.

"Their fertility was restored. We also saw a big effect on the lining of the intestines and as well as in the brain, which was a little bit unexpected," says lead researcher Mariela Jaskelioff. "We actually saw a decrease in the size of the brains of these mice with premature aging. And we could reverse these by reactivating telomerase."

The mice in the study were at an age equivalent of an 80- or 90-year-old human. Researchers restored them to middle age by turning on the telomerase gene.

Despite the encouraging results, the genetic manipulation is not the secret to eternal youth for humans. Jaskelioff says the telomerase gene is involved in the growth of both normal and cancerous cells.

"The fear is that in humans, adult humans, we accumulate mutations all through our lifetimes," she says. "And if we were to reactivate telomerase in cells that have malignant mutations, then the propensity to develop cancer would probably be exacerbated."

However, according to Jaskelioff, it might be possible to stimulate the telomerase gene for short periods of time in people with a rare disorder which causes premature aging.

Scientists describe how they reversed aging in mice in an article published in the journal Nature Medicine.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More