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Anti-ageing technique rewinds cells 30 years

Scientists at the Braham Insititute in the UK have demonstrated a technique to rewind human skin cells, making them function like they were 30 years younger.

In 2012, Shinya Yamanaka, a Japanese researcher, won a nobel prize for his efforts in developing pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). In this process adult tissue cells are harvested and exposed to four molecules called the Yamanaka factors, which will help return them to their younger state. Theoretically, after this process, stem cells can develop into any cell type in the body. This technique has been used by scientists for procedures such as implants in rabbits to restore their vision and to repair damaged heart muscles in pigs.

In the reprogramming, the cells will have to be exposed to the Yamanka factors for 50 days but scientists at Babraham have found that shortening the length of the period can also produce some beneficial effects. The researchers wanted to rewind the age of the cells while also retaining their matured specialized capabilities. Published in eLife, the new deleveloped technique was called, “maturation phase transient reprogramming,” where the cells were only exposed to the Yamanaka factors for 13 days. This produced the desired results on the cells, however the effect was temporary as the cells took on their characteristics of skin cells but with a fresh outlook, as they rujevenated under natural conditions.

Scientists of the study discovered that the new programmed cells produced more collagen and reacted more effctively when designed to replicate a wound healing in a lab expriment. However, the only problem faced by researchers was creating conditions where the rejuvenated stem cells can develop into any cell in the body.

Professor Wolf Reik, author of the study said that, “This work has very exciting implications. Eventually, we may be able to identify genes that rejuvenate without reprogramming, and specifically target those to reduce the effects of aging. This approach holds promise for valuable discoveries that could open up an amazing therapeutic horizon.”

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