A group of researchers from the North American company Rejuvenate Bio, in San Diego (California), claim to have achieved extend the life expectancy of mice elderly and reversed age-related changesas revealed in a pre-published job on the server bioRxiv.
Has been thanks to gene therapy which consists of introducing three genes known as Yamanaka or OSK factors, particularly active in embryonic cells. The results, which have not yet been reviewed by other experts (certified by a peer review), could demonstrate that this type of therapeutic interventions will benefit the world population that gets older and older.
Aging is a complex process that is best characterized as chronic dysregulation of cellular processes leading to impaired function of tissues and organs. While aging cannot currently be preventedits impact on lifespan and health in the elderly can potentially be minimized through interventions that aim to get these cellular processes back to working optimally.
It was administered systemically in 124-week-old mice (the equivalent of 77 human years), getting double life expectancy, increasing by 7% in absolute value. In addition, they observed a significant improvement in frailty scoreswhich indicates that it could improve service life and increase it. Similarly, in human keratinocytes expressing exogenous OSK, they observed significant epigenetic markers of age reversal, suggesting potential re-regulation of gene networks to a younger and potentially healthier state.
The actual application of this discovery is far away.
Aging is associated with increased susceptibility to adverse health outcomes that clinicians can capture using a frailty index (FI), where people are scored based on a subset of age-related health deficits. High composite scores reflect a frail state and increased susceptibility to poor health outcomes.
A similar index in mice can be used to assess aging and the effects of aging interventions. The researchers observed significant reduction in FI of 7.5 points for doxycycline-treated control mice to 6 points for TRE-OSK mice, suggesting that increased lifespan was correlated with better overall health of the animals.
Taken together, the mouse and keratinocyte data suggest that AAV-mediated gene therapy that delivers OSK increases lifespan in mice with improved health parameters and reverses biomarkers of aging in human cells.
“The result is very striking and seems to endorse the rejuvenating potential of this strategy. Despite this, the real application of this discovery is very distant and it should only be taken as one more step in research in this line”, Manuel Collado, director of the Cellular Senescence, Cancer and Aging Laboratory of the Santiago de Compostela Health Research Institute (IDIS), told SMC Spain.
In his opinion, “it must also be taken into account that the work was carried out by a biotechnology company with obvious economic interests in this area of research and we know that this frequently conditions the validity of the results. In this case, moreover, given the enormous competition that has thrown several companies into the race that pursue this same promise of rejuvenation, it seems that the speed of trying to show themselves as the first to achieve it has not allowed sufficiently thorough experimentation and analysis“.
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