Scientists from Harvard have created a 'cocktail' to rejuvenate the body: the effect is obvious in just 4 days - ForumDaily
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Scientists from Harvard have created a 'cocktail' to rejuvenate the body: the effect is obvious in just 4 days

A team of scientists led by famed Harvard Medical School anti-aging researcher David Sinclair has published a paper stating that a mixture of chemicals can reverse cellular aging in just four days. The edition told in more detail science alert.

Photo: IStock

It sounds too good to be true, but it could very well be. So far, evidence has only come from human cells in the lab. There is still a long way to go before animal and human testing.

But the premise is very intriguing. Even if you turn back time in single cells, this does not mean that it is possible to improve age-related health factors.

“We have identified six chemical cocktails that, in less than a week and without compromising cellular identity, restore genome-wide transcript profiles and reverse transcriptomic age,” write Sinclair and a team of 17 other researchers. “Thus, rejuvenation by reversing age can be achieved not only by genetic means, but also by chemical means.”

On the subject: Scientists managed to restore youth to old mice: rejuvenation of people is next

However, taken out of context at the cellular level, this is a very bold statement given how raw this research is. It is therefore not surprising that controversy has already erupted around this article.

The study looked at how cells lose information as they age, especially epigenetic information.

As we mature, our cells go from having unlimited potential when we were embryos to differentiating into only one particular type of cell, which eventually ages and loses its functionality.

In 2012, Shinya Yamanaka and John Gurdon received the Nobel Prize for showing how this process can be reversed. They found that turning on so-called Yamanaka factors (OCT4, SOX2 and KLF4) in mammals can turn adult cells back into induced pluripotent stem cells with unlimited potential.

A few years later, a team of researchers showed that even temporarily turning on these Yamanaka factors in mice made the rodents healthier.

Since then, the race has been on to apply the same to humans, but without the cells becoming cancerous, which is a risk when you allow cells to divide indefinitely.

Sinclair's lab has already achieved promising initial results and has been able to use Yamanaka factors to restore vision in mice and monkeys with damaged optic nerves.

But all of this work involves gene therapy—the introduction of Yamanaka factor genes through a virus—which is expensive, controversial, and full of complications.

The challenge is to find a way to achieve the same results with chemicals that could be turned into a drug or therapy, and that's exactly what Sinclair says they've done.

“Until recently, the best we could do was slow down aging. New discoveries show that we can now reverse it, the researcher noted. “This process previously required gene therapy, which limited its widespread use.”

To find out, the team developed a system that distinguishes young from aging cells.

Instead of just looking at the genetic factors associated with aging, they looked in real time for the rate of compartmentalization of nuclear cytoplasmic proteins (NCCs) - as it turns out, old cells have leaky nuclear membranes.

Using this screening method, the team then found that they could change the rate of NCC in aging human cells to resemble younger ones again using six different cocktails of chemicals.

The team is keeping the recipe for these cocktails under wraps for now, though Sinclair tweeted that they've found more "youth cocktails" since the article was published.

The controversy surrounding the study is not really about the study itself, but about the claim that they have found some kind of anti-aging elixir, when in fact there has not yet been any animal testing of any model.

“This new discovery offers the potential to reverse aging with a single pill—from improving vision to effectively treating numerous age-related diseases,” Sinclair explained.

But while the researchers say the new method developed for cell screening is promising, it's too early to draw such conclusions.

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Biogerontologist Matt Kaberlein, who heads the lab at the University of Washington Medical Center, spoke about the risks of exaggerating the results of this study.

“This is a preliminary report on a new method for screening a single cell line using proxies for epigenetic status. There is no evidence of reprogramming in a tissue, organ, or whole animal,” Kaberlein wrote.

However, since many of us are now living longer than ever before, researchers will always be looking for ways to help us stay healthy longer, and this could well be an important first step. We just need to take it with a big grain of salt.

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