Aging is the process, that no one can reverse or stop it. Although, scientists have made various advances at a cellular level. But they all failed. Now, researchers at Houston Methodist bring a different approach by making a surprising discovery leading to the development of technology to make aged cells younger.
Scientists primarily studied cells in children who were grabbed with progeria. Progeria is the condition marked by rapid aging that usually robs them of the chance to live beyond their early teens. The condition told them a lot about aging, in general, that’s ultimately relevant to all of us.
Due to the condition, most of the children are dying due to heart risk or stroke. Current therapies are useful, they only add a year or two, on average, to the child’s life.
John P. Cooke, M.D., Ph.D., department chair of cardiovascular sciences at Houston Methodist Research Institute said, “We wanted to do something that would improve the children’s quality of life and potentially allow them to live longer, so we set about studying their cells and seeing if we could improve the cell function.”
Scientists focused on telomeres, found at the tip of each chromosome that hold chromosomes together. As we get older, the telomere gets shorter, ticking off the time we have left.
Scientists found that the telomeres were shorter in children with progeria. They thought if they could restore the telomere length, then perhaps they could improve the cell function and its ability to divide and respond to stress.
When reversing the process of telomere shorten the cell from these children and lengthen them. It even can reverse a lot of the problems associated with aging.
To do so, scientists used RNA Therapeutics, and able to produce a protein called telomeres that may lengthen the telomere. They just delivered RNA cells to encode the protein.
Cooke said, “It was a surprise to have such an effect with one exposure to the RNA telomeres. What was most unexpected about our work was the dramatic effect the telomere-extending technology had on the cells.”
“We were not expecting to see such a dramatic effect on the ability of the cells to proliferate. They could function and divide more normally, and we gave them extra lifespan, as well as better function.”
“We looked at many cellular markers of aging and weren’t expecting to see such a dramatic effect on them. Our approach had a greater effect on all the markers of cellular aging. We markedly improved the ability of cells to multiply and reversed the production of inflammatory proteins. Those markers of cell aging we looked at were all reversed with the treatment in our study.”
“While aging is not irreversible, it is something their work can have a beneficial effect on. But, we can at least stall or slow down accelerated aging, and that’s what we’re working toward.”