The Fountain of Youth is a trope for a reason. Who doesn’t want to live forever, or at least for a few extra decades? The latest scientific breakthrough in anti-aging reprograms skin cells to function as if they were 30 years younger. And it could be used on other types of cells throughout our body. Even if younger skin doesn’t tempt you, what about turning back the clock on vision problems or brain functioning? The researchers also saw anti-aging results on genes associated with cataracts and Alzheimer’s disease.
As we age, the cells in our bodies perform their functions slower and begin to malfunction. For skin cells, that means less collagen. In turn, wrinkles form and cuts are slower to heal. As reported by The Guardian, the skin cells in this study came from middle aged people. Once reprogrammed, the de-aged skin cells produced collagen levels expected from cells 30 years younger.
The research advances a technique that won the Nobel Prize in 2012. Instead of a 50 day reprogramming that converts cells back to multipurpose stem cells, the scientists stopped the process after 13 days. This way skin cells regain their original function but still de-age. The journal eLife published the results.
As stated in the press release, more research could bring this reverse aging technique into practice. Science and industry are making breakthroughs, including plasma testing in rats. But regenerative medicine requires more studies like this one, and eventually human trials. For now, this Fountain of Youth is only available to a few select cells in a laboratory.
In the meantime, there’s a lot of options for people who want to look younger. Collagen is a key ingredient in most anti-aging skin products. Bologna face masks anyone? But maybe at some point, we won’t need anti-aging visual effects to let actors play themselves in famous roles from 30 years ago.