Skin rejuvenation insights can help treat geriatric diseases

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(Photo: Apex 360 / Unsplash)
Researchers in the United Kingdom have found a way to make human skin cells look and function 30 years younger than they are.

Wolf Reic, a professor at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, is working with a team of fellow epigenetists to “regenerate” human cells, making them the equivalent of a much younger human cell. The process developed the same cell-making technique (known as IPS) that helped Dolly create cloned sheep in the 90’s, where scientists took cells from living mammals and added chemicals to induce genetic mutations.

The team had research Published Scientific journal eLife earlier this month. Their paper describes a new “maturity phase transient reprogramming” (MPTR) approach that reverses the aging process in somatic cells. The Reyk team took dermal fibroblasts (cells responsible for helping to recover from skin injury) from middle-aged donors and spent 12 days reprogramming the cells until they worked in their early stages. This allows the cells to regenerate the “youthful levels of collagen proteins” that are essential for maintaining skin elasticity. At one point, Reik’s team found that they were able to regenerate the skin cells of a 53-year-old woman in such a way that they behaved like 23-year-olds.

Human dermal fibroblasts, spotted and depicted under a monochromatic microscope. (Photo: Roberts Biology, Creative Commons / Wikimedia Commons)

Although at first glance the scientists’ mission seems to be cosmetically inspired, Reic says their research aims to delay or alleviate age-related diseases such as diabetes, neurological disorders and heart disease. Their MPTR technique is likely to help heal after severe cuts or burns. “The long-term goal is to extend human health, rather than the lifespan, so that people can age in a healthier way.” To say BBC News. If MPTR is found to be applicable to immune cells, it may increase the human response to vaccination.

Genetic mutation via IPS increases one’s risk of cancer, so it is unlikely that human patients will receive this type of regenerative therapy any time soon. That is what the researchers say Is Work in progress Reduce Risk of IPS-related mutations: It will take some time to get the science right. Reik and his team are working together to find a safer way to conduct MPTR so that the technique can be applied to other human tissues.

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