This is potentially good news for 99% percent of society (especially women), but bad news for the multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry, I suppose. A group of scientists recently published a study in the journal Aging that describes how they were able to make old cells regain the dividing ability of younger cells.
Researchers have been looking into the process of aging in humans for decades, trying to pinpoint when and how things begin to change and degrade, and while this new experiment doesn’t claim to be able to reverse aging, it does claim to have had success in stopping the aging process before it passes the point of no return.
That is, the point at which cells become stagnant and start to degrade instead of duplicate. It’s important because some researchers believe the accumulation of the stagnant cells in our organs is the key to unlocking the process of aging.
“We still don’t fully understand why cells become senescent as we age, but damage to DNA, exposure to inflammation and damage to the protective molecules at the end of the chromosomes – the telomeres – have all been suggested,” said the authors in a post on The Conversation. “More recently, people have suggested that one driver of senescence may be loss of our ability to turn genes on and off at the right time and in the right place.”
Their process included delivering hydrogen sulfide directly to mitochondria. Researchers believe the presence of the hydrogen sulfide molecule in the mitochondria can increase certain splicing factors, which are proteins that switch genes on and off in response to their environment.
The scientists concluded, “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. This is some way in the future yet, but it’s an exciting start.”
I imagine that, when the time comes for human trials, they won’t have any trouble lining up volunteers. Not many people wouldn’t want to be the tribute in the game of figuring out how to stop the aging process, once and for all.