Throughout its history, mankind has sought the secret of eternal youth. But only scientists from Stanford University, perhaps, managed to get one step closer to what they wanted. Recently, a team of researchers reported that they were able to rejuvenate human cells using the mechanism used to create stem cells. The results showed that a method designed to reverse DNA copying errors and restore youthfulness to cells does eliminate signs of aging and restores cell energy. Scientists hope that in the future, the method they developed will help in the treatment of diseases caused by aging of tissue cells. Moreover, the results obtained are an important and significant step towards the victory over aging.
What are Yamanaki factors?
It was possible to restore youth to cells with the help of Yamanaka factors – proteins that usually turn cells into stem cells. Moreover, as the authors of the study write, Yamanaka factors play an important role in the creation of embryonic cells.
Embryonic cells are cells obtained from a fertilized egg that can develop into any of the specialized types of cells in the body.
The purpose of the cell rejuvenation procedure was to eliminate the negative factors that manifest as the body ages. In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the use of Yamanaka factors allowed scientists to reverse the weakening of cellular systems that occurs as we age. Recall that today, scientists around the world are working to create an effective way to combat aging. Read more about what results the researchers have already achieved, read in our material.
Stem cells are the precursor cells of all other cells in the body. Stem cells have the ability to transform into other cells and maintain their numbers through division.
According to The New York Times, in 2006, Signa Yamanaka, a stem cell researcher at Kyoto University (Japan), impressed biologists by demonstrating that the fate of a cell can be changed using a set of four transcription factors – agents that activate the genes that the scientist determined. A cell dosed with Yamanaka factors loses its identity and returns to the embryonic state. Errors in the genome, which accumulate as cells age, are also lost during the rejuvenation process. The work of Dr. Yamanaki was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2012.
How to rejuvenate cells?
In 2016, Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte of the Salk Institute for Biological Research in San Diego discovered that the two effects of Yamanaka factors – erasing cell identity and reversing aging – can be separated. Moreover, a lower dose of Yamanaka factors provides only a change in the age of the cell. However, these results were obtained on the cells of laboratory mice, not humans.
In a new work, scientists from Stanford University described a possible way to deliver Yamanaka factors to cells taken from patients. The authors of the article argue that when dosing cells with Yamanaka factors for a short period of time, the cells retain their identity and return to their young state. In the course of their work, scientists removed the old cartilage cells of patients with osteoarthritis and found that after a low dose of Yamanaka factors, cells no longer secrete inflammatory factors that provoke the disease.
Secretion is the process of releasing chemical elements from a cell.
The researchers also found that human muscle stem cells, which are damaged by muscle adynamia – a sharp breakdown and muscle weakness, accompanied by a significant decrease or cessation of motor activity – can be restored. Thus, this discovery today may allow the development of therapeutic agents for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other diseases.