Just think, in the future, senior citizens might be able to live their lives totally disease-free. Brand new studies that were recently posted in the publication BMC Cell Biology has shown that human cells from the elderly can actually become rejuvenated through the use of chemicals that similar to resveratrol, which are substances typically found in dark chocolate and red wine.
Amazing New Studies Conducted
This new research was conducted by scientists from the Universities of Brighton and Exeter, both located within the United Kingdom. Lorna Harries, who is a professor of molecular genetics from the University of Exeter was the leader of the researchers, and Dr. Eva Latorre, who happens to a research associate from the same institution was the first author of the report.
This new research builds upon research conducted previously at the University of Exeter, which discovered that a so-called splicing factor — which are a kind of protein — have a tendency to become inactive as people become older.
The Incredible Aging Discovery
In this new study, scientists added some “resveralogues,” which are chemicals that are very similar to resveratrol, to human cells that were aging and discovered that the splicing factors became reactivated. Not only did the older cells begin to appear younger, they also began to divide again, just as a young cell would do.
“When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn’t believe it,” claimed Dr. Latorre. “These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic,” she added.
“I repeated the experiments several times and in each case, the cells rejuvenated. I am very excited by the implications and potential for this research,” Dr. Latorre continued.
Resveratrol is actually a compound commonly found in grapes, red wine, peanuts, dark chocolate, and some various berries.
What are mRNA splicing factors?
In order for many of us to understand the mechanics of these new findings, Prof. Harries explained the nuts and bolts of mRNA splicing.
“The information in our genes is carried [in] our DNA,” she stated. “Every cell in the body carries the same genes, but not every gene is switched on in every cell. That’s one of the things that makes a kidney cell a kidney cell and heart cell a heart cell.”
“When a gene is needed,” she added, “it is switched on and [makes] an initial message called an RNA, that contains the instructions for whatever the gene makes. The interesting thing is that most genes can make more than one message.”
“The initial message is made up of building blocks that can be kept in or left out to make different messages,” Prof. Harries continued. “[This] inclusion or removal of the building blocks is done by a process called mRNA splicing, whereby the different blocks are joined together as necessary.”
“It’s a bit like a recipe book, where you can make either a vanilla sponge or a chocolate cake, depending on whether or not you add chocolate!” she noted.
“We have previously found that the proteins that make the decision as to whether a block is left in our taken out (these are called splicing factors) are the ones that change most as we age.”
“[The findings demonstrate] that when you treat old cells with molecules that restore the levels of the splicing factors, the cells regain some features of youth,” explained Prof. Harries.
“They are able to grow, and their telomeres — the caps on the ends of the chromosomes that shorten as we age — are now longer, as they are in young cells.”
“[We] were quite surprised by the magnitude of [the findings],” Prof. Harries went on to say. She also claimed that these rejuvenation effects remained for several weeks, another thing that was very thrilling to the research team.
This discovery could soon improve the healthspan of senior citizens. “This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life,” said Prof. Harries.