Scientists at Stanford have found a new link between anti-aging research and stem cells. A recent study from the Stanford University School of Medicine demonstrates that old human cells can become more youthful by inducing them to act as pluripotent stem cells. This research has far-reaching implications for anti-aging scientific knowledge. Learn more below about how stem cells may be involved in anti-aging.
Stem Cells Overview
Stem cells are cells with the potential to become other types of cells. Our body is usually very specific. Skin cells like to become skin cells, muscle cells like to become new muscle cells, brain cells become brain cells, etc. Stem cells are unique. They have the potential to become multiple types of cells. They are the perfect cell to treat different types of conditions in which certain cells are damaged and cannot be replaced, like heart attacks, neurodegenerative diseases, and many more. Scientists eagerly study them to see if they can encourage the cells to become the cell type that would be most helpful.
New Research in Inducing Pluripotent Stem Cells
The Stanford scientists who have been working on this research study have dedicated their careers to the topics of anti-aging on a cellular level. The findings in this latest research are based on multiple studies. The first study was done in mice. In this study, the scientists took those mouse cells to the lab and induced them to express a panel of proteins. This panel of proteins, called Yamanaka factors, is also involved in embryonic development. These Yamanaka factors are cause normal adult cells to transform into pluripotent stem cells. Researchers found that these newly induced cells show fewer markers of aging then regular adult cells. In fact, these cells were indistinguishable from naturally younger cells.
In order to successfully complete this experiment, researchers repeatedly exposed to the adult cells to short RNA messages every day over a period of 2 weeks. These particular RNA sections and code for the Yamanaka proteins. Over time, the proteins cause the cells to rewind in terms of aging until they resembled pluripotent stem cells identical to those in embryonic development.
The changes to these cells are far-reaching. They not only become pluripotent stem cells, but they also undo any of the molecular tags to their DNA that occur due to aging. The muscle cells in these mice were also stronger and more similar to muscles found in younger mice. The cells also become completely pluripotent so that a cell that was taken from a heart muscle is indistinguishable from a cell taken from the skin. However, researchers wanted to know what would happen if they exposed the old adult cells to this panel over a shorter period of time. Specifically, they wanted to know whether they could reverse aging without inducing complete pluripotent stem cells.
In order to answer this question, researchers examined adult stem cells from elderly adult participants. They exposed these cells in the lab to the Yamanaka proteins plus two additional proteins over a period of days. They found that after just four days, the stem cells from the elderly adult participants showed signs of aging reversal. Compared to regular cells that were untreated from elderly adult patients, these cells expressed fewer genes associated with aging. Some of these hallmarks of aging included an improvement in how cells sense nutrients, improvement in their metabolism and ability to create energy, and an improvement in their ability to dispose of waste. Almost every cell line showed improved markers that were consistent with younger cells. When examining markers of the age of cells, the study found that the treated cells were on average 1.5 to 3.5 years younger than the untreated cells.
While this research still has a long way to go until it is used by the masses, the researchers have demonstrated that it is in fact possible to reverse age cells. This could be used on targeted cells, such as skin cells, muscle cells, etc. It has implications for cosmetics as well as practical use in daily life. It may have a role in different disease processes associated with aging or associated with cell markers associated with aging. The possibilities lie in the potential of the pluripotent stem cells. If you would like to learn more about stem cells and how they can help you achieve your health goals, contact us at the Stem Cell Transplant Institute today.