Scientists manage to rejuvenate skin cells in 30-year-old woman with Dolly sheep technology

The researchers managed to rejuvenate the skin cells of a 53-year-old woman to make them equivalent to those of a 23-year-old woman.

Scientists from the University of Cambridge in the UK believe they can do the same with other tissues in the body.

The ultimate goal is to develop treatments for age-related diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and neurological disorders.

The technology is based on the techniques used to create Dolly, the sheep cloned more than 25 years ago.

This enlarged cell is from a 52-year-old woman.  However, it behaves like the cell of a 23-year-old woman.
This enlarged cell is from a 52-year-old woman. However, it behaves like the cell of a 23-year-old woman.Fatima Santos

Team leader Professor Wolf Reik, of the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, told the BBC that he hoped the technique could be used to keep people healthier for longer as they age.

“We dreamed of this kind of thing. Many common diseases get worse with age, and thinking about helping people in this way is super exciting, “she said.

However, Professor Reich pointed out that the work, published in eLife magazine, was at an early stage.

He said there were several scientific problems to overcome before he could leave his lab and enter the clinic. But you said showing for the first time that cellular rejuvenation is possible is a critical step.

Following in the footsteps of “Dolly”

Dolly the sheep was created to find solutions to aging
Dolly the sheep was created to find solutions to aging

The origins of the technique date back to the 1990s, when researchers at the Roslin Institute, outside Edinburgh, developed a method for converting an adult mammary gland cell taken from a sheep into an embryo.

It led to the creation of Dolly, the cloned sheep.

Roslin’s team’s goal was not to create clones of sheep or humans, but to use the technique to create so-called human embryonic stem cells.

These, they hoped, could be converted into specific tissues, such as muscle, cartilage, and nerve cells to replace worn parts of the body.

The Dolly technique was simplified in 2006 by Professor Shinya Yamanaka, then at Kyoto University.

The new method, called IPS, involved adding chemicals to adult cells for about 50 days.

This resulted in genetic changes that turned adult cells into stem cells.

In both Dolly and IPS techniques, the stem cells created must grow back into the cells and tissues that the patient needs.

This has proved difficult and, despite decades of effort, the use of stem cells to treat disease is currently extremely limited.

a new method

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Professor Reik’s team used the IPS technique on 53-year-old skin cells. But they shortened the chemical bath from 50 days to about 12.

Dr. Dilgeet Gill was surprised to find that the cells had not become embryonic stem cells, but had rejuvenated themselves to resemble those of a 23-year-old.

“I remember the day I got the results and I couldn’t believe some cells were 30 years younger than they should have been. It was a very exciting day! ” she assured her.

The technique cannot be immediately transferred to the clinic because the IPS method increases the risk of tumors.

But Professor Reik is confident that now that it is known that it is possible to rejuvenate cells, his team will be able to find a safer alternative method.

“The long-term goal is to extend the human health period, rather than the lifespan, so that people can age healthier,” he said.

The uses

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Professor Reik says some of the earliest applications could be the development of drugs to rejuvenate older people’s skin in parts of the body where they have been cut or burned, as a way to speed healing.

Researchers have shown that this is possible in principle, showing that their rejuvenated skin cells move faster in experiments that simulate a wound.

The next step is to see if the technology will work in other tissues such as muscle, liver and blood cells.

Professor Melanie Welham, chief executive of the UK’s Life Sciences and Biotechnology Research Council, which partly funded the research that led to Dolly the sheep, told the BBC that the long-stalled clinical benefits of the technology may not to be so far away.

“If similar approaches or new therapies could rejuvenate immune cells, which we know become less sensitive with age, then it may be possible in the future to increase people’s response to vaccination, as well as their ability to fight infections.”

In search of the “fountain of youth”

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The big question is whether research efforts in this area will lead to a whole-body regeneration method, an elixir of youth or an anti-aging pill.

Professor Reik said this idea was not entirely far-fetched.

“The technique was applied to genetically engineered mice and there are some signs of rejuvenation. One study showed signs of a rejuvenated pancreas, which is interesting for its potential for fighting diabetes. “

But Professor Robin Lovell-Badge of the Crick Institute in London thinks the obstacles are considerable.

He also doesn’t think it’s a trivial process to transfer the rejuvenation process to other types of tissue or, indeed, to an anti-aging pill.

“If you find other chemicals that do the same thing, that would be good, but they can be just as bad. Therefore, it is ambitious to think that you will find these chemicals easily and that they will be safer.

“It’s also entirely possible that other cell types require different conditions that can be difficult to control. And if you could do it with your whole body safely, there’s so much time left that I think it’s pure speculation. “

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