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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid