Scientists Reverse Aging in Mice

Could the process work for humans?

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 29, 2010 7:51 AM CST | Updated Dec 4, 2010 12:34 PM CST

(Newser) – Harvard scientists have reversed the aging process in mice, injecting them with an enzyme that healed tissue and reportedly spurred the growth of new neurons in their brains. Now they’re wondering if they can apply some of these benefits to humans. But differences between human and mice bodies make things complicated—and potentially dangerous, the Guardian reports.

The scientists zeroed in on telomeres, the protective caps found at the end of each of our chromosomes. Every time our cells divide, the telomeres are shortened, eventually reaching a point where they stop working and the cell dies. The scientists bred mice that lacked an enzyme that halts the shortening process; this caused them to show signs of aging early. But when scientists injected the missing enzyme, called telomerase, the mice “showed a substantial restoration,” said the head of the study. But we can’t just inject the stuff in ourselves; for adult humans, telomerase is linked to cancer. But the study's leader thinks the treatment could be safe if it were given only sporadically to young people whose bodies are free of cancer cells. Click here for more from the fountain of youth.

Scientists have used enzyme injections to reverse the aging process in mice.
Scientists have used enzyme injections to reverse the aging process in mice.   (Shutterstock)
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