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Harvard Researchers Find ‘Fountain of Youth’

Is there really a “Fountain of Youth,” something that can give us all long life? Well, some Harvard scientists say there very well might be.

Harvard researcher David Sinclair said so in a study published in the July issue of the medical journal Aging. The Harvard Medical School study found that a cocktail of multiple medications can reverse the aging process. This is known as chemically induced reprogramming to reverse cellular aging.

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Chemically induced reprogramming (CIR) is a new approach to reversing cellular aging. It involves the use of small molecules to induce epigenetic changes in cells, which can lead to a reversal of age-related changes in gene expression and function.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of Maine showed that CIR can be used to rejuvenate old and senescent cells. The researchers identified a panel of small molecules that could induce CIR in human cells, and they showed that these molecules were able to restore youthful gene expression patterns and tissue function in old and senescent cells.

The findings of this study suggest that CIR could be a promising new approach for treating age-related diseases and extending lifespan. However, more research is needed to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of CIR.

Sinclair said that it has previously been shown that age reversal is possible using gene therapy to turn on embryonic genes. But, he maintains, they have shown it is possible to do so with chemical cocktails, what the scientist calls “a step towards affordable whole-body rejuvenation.”

“The team’s findings build upon the discovery that genes called Yamanaka factors, can convert adult cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs),” David Sinclair said in a tweet. This Nobel Prize-winning discovery raised the question of whether it might be possible to reverse cellular aging without causing cells to become too young & turn cancerous.”

“Studies on the optic nerve, brain tissue, kidney, and muscle have shown promising results, with improved vision and extended lifespan in mice and, recently, in April of this year, improved vision in monkeys,” he added.

Sinclair said they are preparing for human trials and that there is currently a race between many groups to show chemicals can rejuvenate cells like gene therapy can.

“I acknowledge these dedicated groups’ work, too, and look forward to even more exciting advancements in the coming years,” he said.

Of course, there are still many challenges that need to be addressed before CIR can be used in humans. For example, it is not yet clear how long the effects of CIR last, or whether it can be used to reverse age-related changes in the brain and other tissues. However, the findings of this study are a promising step towards developing new treatments for age-related diseases and extending lifespan.



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