26 Feb
Scientists Extend Human Cell Lifespan Scientists Extend Human Cell Lifespan

Scientists Extend Human Cell Lifespan

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Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered a procedure that can efficiently and quickly extend the length of human telomeres, the protective caps on the tips of chromosomes that have been linked to disease and aging. The scientists found that treated cells behave as if they are a great deal younger than those cells which have not been treated. The cells also have multiplied "with abandon" in the lab dish, as opposed to dying or even stagnating.

“Now we have found a way to lengthen human telomeres by as much as 1,000 nucleotides, turning back the internal clock in these cells by the equivalent of many years of human life,” said Helen Blau, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford and director of the university’s Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology. “This greatly increases the number of cells available for studies such as drug testing or disease modeling.”

The scientists used modified messenger RNA, which carries orders from the genes in the DNA to the protein-making powerhouses in the cells. One advantage the new technique has over others is that it is temporary. The modified RNA is meant to reduce the cell's immune response to the treatment; however, it only hangs around for about 48 hours before disappearing.

“This new approach paves the way toward preventing or treating diseases of aging,” said Blau. “There are also highly debilitating genetic diseases associated with telomere shortening that could benefit from such a potential treatment....We’re working to understand more about the differences among cell types, and how we can overcome those differences to allow this approach to be more universally useful."

National Institutes of Health grants supported the research.

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Read 1847 times Last modified on Sunday, 01 February 2015 04:55
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

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