Scientists Reverse Aging in Mice
Could the process work for humans?
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Nov 29, 2010 7:51 AM CST
Updated Dec 4, 2010 12:34 PM CST
Scientists have used enzyme injections to reverse the aging process in mice.   (Shutterstock)

(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.

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Comments
Showing 3 of 26 comments
Dave
Dec 5, 2010 9:37 AM CST
"I always wanted to be an old man" - Tom Waits
sunnybug
Dec 5, 2010 5:45 AM CST
When are scientists going to stop playing God? Aging is a natural thing, it is needed in the natural order of the world. There are just some things that humans were not meant to stop or control. It will never end and the world will end up used and abused by the greediness of humans...
Realist
Dec 4, 2010 4:19 PM CST
Who wants to live forever on a planet we've screwed over so badly? As others have pointed out, if this were to become a commercially available 'treatment', it would initially only be available to the richest of people - you know, those who got there by trampling on everybody else. And living longer doesn't mean living perpetually disease free - it stops aging, but it won't stop cancer - or a bullet to the face!