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Breakthrough Research Could Improve the Lives of Older People

Breakthrough Research Could Improve the Lives of Older People

06:18 25th February 2018 | Biological Aging

Rejuvenation Look Young Feel Better More Vital Physical Enhancement Relaxation Treatments Beauty Therapies Aging Process Potential Intervention Old Human Cells Senescent Younger Cells Chromosomes Cell Division Increased Telomores Degenaration Tissues Organs

 According to the Oxford Dictionary, rejuvenation is ‘the action or process of making someone or something look or feel better, younger, or more vital.’


In the marketing world, the word is synonymous with numerous physical enhancements through beauty and relaxation treatments and therapies.


Aubrey Grey, an English author and biomedical gerontologist, defines it as ‘a medical discipline focused on the practical reversal of the aging process.’


For the purpose of this blog post, rejuvenation will be used in relation to the biological aging process and the potential intervention of said process.


The Rejuvenation of Old Human Cells

 A method to rejuvenate inactive, senescent (ageing or deteriorating) cells has been found. The discovery (funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust) was made by a research team at the University of Exeter headed by a Professor of Molecular Genetics, Lorna Harries. Researchers Professor Richard Faragher and Dr Elizabeth Ostler from the University of Brighton were also involved in the study (Published 17 October 2017 in the journal, BMC Cell Biology).


In the laboratory they were able to make old cells look younger and in the process realised that these cells were also increasingly behaving like younger cells.




Chromosomes have ‘caps’ called telomeres which decrease in length as we age.

Splicing factors (a class of genes) progressively switch off as we age.


In a previous study, the same collaborating teams found that certain chemicals (reversatrol analogues) could switch splicing factors back ‘on’ in cells that were grown under controlled conditions. The treatment applied to the older cells enabled cell division and increased telomeres. This was observed within hours after application.


*Reversatrol analogues are based on a substance that is naturally found in red wine, dark chocolate and blueberries.


What Does All of this Mean?

 With every step of ageing comes degeneration; little changes that early on are not even noticeable at times.  Eventually, senescent (ageing) cells in tissues and organs struggle to respond to challenges in their environment; they fail to perform their functions effectively and as a result expose the mentioned tissues and organs to disease. By treating old cells they can regain some features of youth.


“When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn’t believe it. These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic,” she said. “I repeated the experiments several times and in each case the cells rejuvenated. I am very excited by the implications and potential for this research.” – Dr Eva Latorre, Research Associate at the University of Exeter


“This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life. Our data suggests that using chemicals to switch back on the major class of genes that are switched off as we age might provide a means to restore function to old cells.” – Lorna Harries, Professor of Molecular Genetics, University of Exeter


The findings in their research are a step in the right direction to one day offering therapies that could ease the process of ageing. However, the true potential of the findings in terms of addressing the degenerative effects of ageing is reliant on an immense amount of additional research which is in need of funding.



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