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Health, Science

Update: The Secret of Eternal Youth – Scientists actually reverse the aging process!

Do you hate the idea of growing old? Perhaps you fear grey hairs, wrinkles, and the dreaded effects of gravity on your fine physique!?

Should we just grow old gracefully?

In hot-off-the-press science news, all your fears could be a thing of the past: A groundbreaking step has been made by actually reversing aging!

So now you can say ‘No’ to Botox, anti-oxidant creams and hair dyes because the secret of eternal youth is nearly upon us

Why do I get old?

In my previous post ‘The Secret of Eternal Youth’, I explained that the main reason we grow old is because of damage in our DNA; Over the years the wear and tear of life takes a toll on our precious genetic code. To reduce this damage, DNA has a built-in protection: Called ‘telomeres’, they are similar to the plastic tips on the ends of shoe laces.

Like shoelaces, DNA has 'plastic tips' to stop them fraying

But even these ‘telomeres’ get worn down eventually.

So what’s the secret of eternal youth?

When our telomeres get shortened, we get old: our organs fail, our limbs weaken and we become frail. But Harvard genetics researchers have done a world first: They repaired telomeres, literally turning the clock back on aging!

They conducted their research on mice, and published their results in the prestigious Nature journal. The conclusions are obvious; if similar techniques could be used on humans then old people could be made young again.

 

Sounds exciting, but what exactly did the scientists do?

The genetics researchers used special genetically-modified mice in their experiments. They were bred to grow old quickly: the mice had short telomeres. The mice were also bred to be missing the telomere’s personal protective guardian: a cleaning enzyme called ‘telomerase’ that sits next to DNA and keeps telomeres nice and healthy. Normally these mice wouldn’t live long (scientists are such cruel brutes) so they injected them with fresh ‘telomerase’ to see if they could help them live a bit longer…

By injecting mice with an enzyme 'telomerase' scientists were able to reverse the aging process!

They hoped that the aged mice might live a bit longer but were amazed when they discovered that the telomeres actually repaired themselves; this has never been seen before and until now damage to telomeres was believed to be irreversible! A simple injection repaired the effects of aging!

Telomerase injections all round!

Would you want to live longer? If you could reverse the signs of aging would you actually do it, or is it just a bad idea all round?

Is that a grey hair?

Oh my gosh, I thnik I’ve found a grey hair!? Right I’m off to have a cup of green tea and a telomerase injection…

Read more:

References:

Jaskelioff, M et al (2010) Telomerase reactivation reverses tissue degeneration in aged telomerase-deficient mice. Nature. advanced online publication: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nature09603.html#supplementary-information

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About Stuart Farrimond

I love writing about science and health subjects. Strange, because I also teach the same things. I trained as a medical doctor before turning my hand to other things. Shortlisted for The Guardian/Observer for Science Writer of the Year 2011 and editor for Guru Magazine I also like to grow large pumpkins...

Discussion

One thought on “Update: The Secret of Eternal Youth – Scientists actually reverse the aging process!

  1. Hi Stu, hope youre feeling better and hope you’re having a good rest! were enjoying the blog! from the second years 🙂

    Posted by second years at salisbury college | November 30, 2010, 10:30 am

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