Unlocked, secret of eternal youth

The landmark research on mice led by Ronald DePinho of Harvard University in the US found that the effects of ageing can be successfully reversed.

Before the study, the skin, brains, guts and other organs of the rodents resembled those of an 80-year-old person. But, within just two months of being given a drug that switches on a key enzyme, the animals had grown so many new cells that they had almost completely rejuvenated. The male mice went from being infertile to fathering large litters.

According to the scientists, success of their experiment means development of new drugs that might allow men and women to have children naturally until they are a ripe old age.
Lives could be longer and healthier, free from illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease, with skin and hair retaining its youthful lustre, they hoped.

Reversal

Dr DePinho said: “In human terms, it would be like having a 40-year-old person who looked 80-plus and reversing the effects to the levels of a 50-year-old. By 2025 we are going to have 1.2 billion people aged over 60, which is when you start to see cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.

“This is the first time that ageing has been reversed. This suggests that there is a point of return for ageing organs that we had not previously appreciated.”

Dr Steven Artandi at Stanford University in the US described the study as “beautiful” but cautioned that an anti-ageing drug is still more than 10 years away.

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