November 29, 2010

Older Mice Turned Younger at Harvard, Humans Next?

Harvard researchers turned older mice younger with a controllable telomerase gene.

The telomerase enzyme maintains telomeres that shield chromosomes from degeneration.

As people age, low level of telomerase results in a erosion of telomeres which causes a degeneration of tissue and leads to a decline in body functions.

Researchers created mice with a telomerase switch and caused premature aging in the mice. Then when the telomerase was reactivated, the telomeres were regenerated in the mice body and many aspects of aging were reversed including new growth of brain and testes that are key elements of youth. And, by reactivating telomerase only for short periods, the potential for developing cancer is eliminated. This is an important issue as cancer also relies on TT for its growth.

Is reversing aging in Humans next?  Is this Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth?  While these results are encouraging, applications of this research to humans is still some time away.