FOREVER YOUNG: Scientists successfully reverse aging in lab-grown human cells, is immortality around the corner?

These latest experiments by researchers from University of Exeter could be a massive breakthrough in future anti-degeneration drugs


                            FOREVER YOUNG: Scientists successfully reverse aging in lab-grown human cells, is immortality around the corner?

Beating death and living forever has been one of humankind's enduring wish and fantasy, and reversing the ageing process has been touted as one of the ways to go about it. Although we are far from realizing that wish, researchers from the University of Exeter have managed to reverse the ageing process in lab grown human cells, triggering hopes for eventual immortality for humans. The experiment was conducted by Roberta Torregrossa, Lorna Harries, Matt Whiteman, Eva Latorre, and Mark Wood, all from the University of Exeter. 

These latest experiment could be a massive breakthrough in future anti-degeneration drugs. Aging is looked at as a slow but progressive decline in one's normal bodily function. It can also be linked to chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and dementia. There could be countless reasons as to why cells and tissues stop functioning and now a new train of thought in biology, is helping to focus on the accumulation of "senescent cells" in the tissues and organs.

 

(Source: Pixabay)
(Source: Pixabay)

These 'senescent cells' are older cells which can no longer perform as they should but also tend to compromise the normal functioning of cells that are around them. By removing these old and dysfunctional cells, it is reported that many features of aging in animals have been known to get improved. For example, cataracts which are a part of natural aging can be delayed or prolonged. 

Scientists are still unsure of why cells tend to become 'senescent' as we age but many are of the belief that it could be because of damage to our DNA, exposure to inflammation and also damage to the protective molecules which are at the end of chromosomes. 

Writing in the 'Conversation', rsearchers Lorna Harries and Matt Whiteman shared, "In our new work, we showed that by treating old cells with a chemical that releases small amounts of hydrogen sulphide, we were able to increase levels of some splicing factors and to rejuvenate old human cells. Hydrogen sulphide is a molecule that is found naturally in our bodies and has been shown to improve several features of age-related disease in animals. But it can be toxic in large amounts, so we needed to find a way to deliver it directly to the part of the cell where it is needed". 

"By using a “molecular postcode” we have been able to deliver the molecule directly to the mitochondria, the structures that produce energy in cells, where we think it acts, allowing us to use tiny doses, which are less likely to cause side effects. We are hopeful that in using molecular tools such as this, we will be able to eventually remove senescent cells in living people, which may allow us to target multiple age-related diseases at once," they continued.

All of this is yet in the future, but as the researchers pointed out, "It's an exciting start."