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Researchers have found a “reset button” for aging cells, and it can change everything


Researchers have found a “reset button” for aging cells, and it can change everything

If you are a teenager or in your early twenties, chances are that you haven’t given much thought to getting old and aging in general. If you are nearing your 30s, aging is a pesky reality that interferes with your youth and beauty. And as you grow older, your concerns with aging also grow; whether it be health, financial stability or anything else in the world.

This is the reason why humankind has always been fascinated with magical remedies which could prolong life and stall death. The fountain of youth and other such legends exist because humans have always wanted to delay getting old.

Well, it seems like we might finally be nearing that goal! Advances in the stem cell research field promise a cure to aging or so the researchers involved would like to believe.

The hematopoietic stem cells or HSC for short are responsible for generating blood cells within our body. This particular research looks at rejuvenating these HSCs. This research was conducted at University of Lunds at Sweden. Their findings were published as a feature in the magazine Futurism. The basis of the hypothesis is that we somehow reverse the aging of our blood cells. Scientists believe that as our body ages, so do our cells. Aged blood cells are more vulnerable compared to the young blood cells. Diseases such as Leukemia easily target and harm these old cells.

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For their research, scientists focused on aging mice. These test subjects under observation show similar signs of deterioration and loss in functionality with age as in human beings with respect to their blood. Scientists then introduced iPS cells in their system. Pluripotent stem cells are the cells which can produce other cells of any kind. The iPS is not limited to producing blood cells. After this step, scientists observed that there seem to have been a complete reset in the blood stem cells of the mice. They seemed to be rejuvenating at an astounding rate. The main reason was that the progenitor HSC cells were producing blood cells which were as good as new. These new cells were like the ones found in young mice.

The iPS seem to have renewed the potential of HSC to produce new cells which did not show any signs of aged blood cells as was the norm before. So far, the research promises and is looking into the ability of reversing HSC aging through iPS cells. If proven and corroborated by enough similar researchers, it could be the breakthrough we all had been looking for in the field of various age related conditions and their prevention.

However, we cannot be sure as of now because this is a singular research and has not yet been performed on humans or in fact any other life form other than mice. Therefore, the jury is still out on how viable it is for our use. But it is also true that if this is proven to work similarly on humans, a lot of blood related disorders could become curable with its help.

The reason that the scientists are so hopeful about this study is because it promises a cure for even terminal illnesses such as Leukemia. The production of the new blood cells was not simply a mutation but rather a result of significant change in the gene expressions or epigenetics. Hence, this research holds vast possibilities of helping us in our ongoing fight against our own mortality.

Image source: Umberto Salvagnin/Flickr

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