Ben Buttons

I wouldn’t say I’m old. That’s not to say I wouldn’t mind staying not old. Early twenties suits me and if in ten years I feel like coming back to it I would like to have the option. Time travel seems to still be a bit too far in the future for my liking, but perhaps there are other ways to get back to my “younger days.”

Researchers at Harvard have come across an incredible development: Ronald DePinho and his team at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have partially reversed aging degeneration in test mice. What!? Are you telling me that we can turn old men into babies, dogs into puppies, and butterflies into caterpillars? Well… not quite. But the results they found have been truly amazing.

The tests focused on manipulating an enzyme called telomerase, which control the coverings on chromosomes. As we age telomerase levels in our cells decreases, and telomeres (the protective coverings) start to degrade. This can lead to tissue degeneration, which causes function loss in the elderly.

By switching on a gene that controls telomerase levels in the mice after degeneration by aging the mice regained some functions, including growth in the brain and testes, increased fertility, and the return of some lost cognitive processes. While this is all amazing there is more great news: none of the mice ended up with cancer! This is good news because cancer cells turn the telomerase gene on to continue growth. More testing is to be done, but for now we can look forward to coming back to… right now.

Written by: Young Erik Alvarenga

 

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