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Reversing aging of Human Cells

Recently, researchers were able to rejuvenate cells of elderly people. Old people’s cells were reprogrammed to become induced pluripotent stem cells, and then were rejuvenated to the state resembling that of human embryonic stem cells. The cells they got were able to differentiate into numerous cells types of the body. The results were presented in Genes & Development.

As it is known, human embryonic stem cells can give rise to various specialized cells in the body, such as liver cells, blood cells, neurons, etc. In 2007, the scientists learned how to reprogram adult cells into induced pluripotent stem cells analogous to embryonic stem cells, and since then have been working on the method development.

Still, application of induced pluripotent stem cells in elderly patients was blocked by the cell senescence. Now, the researchers learned how to overcome this obstacle and rejuvenated cells from elderly people (some of them aged over 100).

In order to do that, the scientists modified the procedure of reprogramming cells, using “cocktail” of six genetic factors instead of usual four factors. This “cocktail” not only served for cell reprogramming, but also erased aging signs from the cells. As a result, induced pluripotent stem cells got ability to give rise to all types of body cells and also gained characteristics of young cells, namely increased self-renewal potential and improved cellular metabolism. These cells gave rise to differentiated cells that functioned like young ones.

The initial experiments were conducted with the cells of patients in their 70ies. After that, the research team decided to try even older patents’ cells, some of them aging 92-101 years old. The same cocktail was applied, and successful results obtained. Therefore, it was proven that cell age is not a barrier to the reprogramming technique. The finding may advance rejuvenative medicine.