A mystery gene that plays a critical role in biological aging has finally been identified, paving the way for innovative treatments to treat and eventually cure age-related diseases.
The discovery could help reduce and even reverse some forms of biological aging, according to scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who conducted the research.
The research builds on previous studies on cellular reprogramming, which aims to reverse cellular aging through the rejection of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC).
“While we agree with previous findings on MSC rejuvenation by cellular reprogramming, our study goes further to provide insights into how reprogrammed MSCs are molecularly regulated to improve cellular characteristics of aging,” said researcher Wan-Ju Li. principal and member of the university’s Biomedical Engineering department.
“The most significant thing is that we were able to identify the signaling pathway [específica] as an underlying mechanism that controls cellular aging-related activities. We believe our findings will help improve the understanding of MSC aging and its importance in regenerative medicine.”
The research was published in the scientific journal Stem Cells this week. Dr. Jan Nolta, the journal’s editor-in-chief, described the breakthrough as “a very important achievement.”
The study describes how the researchers analyzed MSCs from human synovial fluid, which is found in the knee and elbow joints.
The researchers then reprogrammed them into pluripotent stem cells, before reverting them to MSCs. The result was rejuvenated MSCs, which were then analyzed to discover changes in gene expression.
“We found that aging-related activities were greatly reduced in reprogrammed MSCs compared to those of their parental line, indicating a reversal of cellular aging,” the paper states.
Dr. Li noted that the findings could prove critical to the development of new drug therapies needed to treat osteoporosis and cartilage degeneration.
The research also provides hope for new treatments for Parkinson’s disease and heart disease, although more studies will be needed to fully understand the implications.