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TECHNOLOGY

Scientists manage to rejuvenate 30 years the skin of a 53-yo woman

Por: María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards 11 de abril de 2022

Using an updated technique that managed to clone Dolly the sheep, scientists from Cambridge successfully rejuvenated 53-year-old cells 30 years.

The quest for eternal youth has captivated our imagination since the dawn of time. Legends about magical waters, mythical chalices, and even rituals have given us amazing stories that for many only live in the fictional world. As time has passed and scientific and technological advances have taken us to lengths unimaginable the fantasy of achieving eternal youth or at least extending our lifespan, seems more probable than any Sci-Fi fiction.

So, yes, after decades and decades of research scientists from Cambridge in the UK have managed to rejuvenate the skin cells of a 50-year-old woman to those of a 23-year-old. Published in the science journal eLife, the research which is at a very early stage, explained that this first achievement could take science and medicine to a whole new level that until now was just a mere dream.

Led by Professor Wolf Reik from the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, the team was inspired by the technology and techniques used to create Dolly, the famous sheep cloned over 25 years ago in Scotland. Their overall idea is to use these improved technologies to improve humanity’s health through the rejuvenation of any body tissue. In that way, they would be able to develop specific treatments for age-related diseases like hear conditions, neurological disorders, and even diabetes.

“We have been dreaming about this kind of thing. Many common diseases get worse with age and to think about helping people in this way is super exciting,” said Wolf Reik.

Dolly the cloned sheep and the history of cell rejuvenation

Back in the 90s, science had a major milestone when researchers from the Roslin Institute in Scotland managed to create a method to turn a mammary gland cell of a sheep into an embryo, that embryo was Dolly, the famous cloned sheep. Although the news made the world paranoid about the reaches science could have, the team in charge of the creation of Dolly, wasn’t looking to clone living creatures, much less human beings. Their original idea was to succeed in the creation of human embryonic stem cells in the hopes of making them grow into specific body tissues like muscle, nerve cells, etc. In other words, they wanted to be able to create damaged cells in the body to replace them. Almost three decades later, science is quite close to achieving that.

Now, the techniques and technologies used in the 90s with Dolly were later on simplified and improved in 2006 by Professor Shinya Yamanaka from Kyoto University. With his technique, called IPS, the team managed to turn within 50 days, adult cells into stem cells. These now need to be regrown into the cells a determined patient needs. However, despite the extenuating work of the last years, it had proven to be quite a difficult task.

New applications

Wolf Reik’s team, took Tamanaka’s IPS technique and reduce the time process from 50 to 12 days. They were all surprised when they realized that instead of turning into embryonic stem cells, the skin cells of the 52-year-old woman had rejuvenated thirty years.

Unfortunately, this is just the first step and it will take some time for this process to be taken into clinical research. That is because the IPS method has proven to increase the risk of cancer in the cells; however, the team is full of hope that now that they have managed to successfully rejuvenate cells, science will be able to come up with safer methods to translate this amazing results into medial realities.

“The long-term aim is to extend the human healthspan, rather than the lifespan so that people can get older in a healthier way,” Professor Wolf Reik declared.

The next step is replicating the work made on the cells and discovering if this can be translated into other types of cells and tissue, like blood cells, muscle, and other organs.

The next step is to see if the technology will work on other tissues such as muscle, liver, and blood cells. Another hopeful use of the technique is in the vaccination arena in terms of modifying the immune system, a subject that has become quite relevant in the past couple of years.


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