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Above left image: Developing embryo in utero ultrasound image courtesy of jeffrey dach md.
A new study by Harvard professor Ronald A. DePinho, just published in Nature shows dramatic reversal of aging in mice.(1)(2) The "biological clock" of these mice had been modified to make them age rapidly.
Reversing Aging with the "The Ponce De Leon Effect"
The next step of the experiment was to reverse signs of aging in the mice. For this next step, the aged mice were treated with a drug (4-OHT) which served to "turn on" production of telomerase and lengthen the telomeres. This dramatically reversed the signs of aging with the aged mice surprisingly rejuvenated. Their shrunken brains, spleens and testes resumed normal size, and they regained their sense of smell. The aged infertile males once again became fertile, and fathered large litters. Is this the next anti-aging breakthrough? Can treatment to restore telomerase and telomere length potentially restore organ function and reverse degenerative disease in the elderly?
Left image: Telomere cap at the end of the chromosome. After each cell replication, a small piece of telomere DNA is lost, until cell replication stops. This is the "biological clock". image courtesy of wikimedia commons.
What is a Telomere? Telomeres are the Biological Clock that Control Aging
Telomeres are the biological clock that control aging and cell replication. They are small strands of DNA code at the end of each chromosome (see diagram above). Each time the cell replicates itself, the telomere shortens a little bit and eventually, after about 50 replications, cell replication stops in a process known as "cell senescence", or the Hayflick limit.(3)
Nobel Prize for Telomere Research