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Just over 15 years ago, scientists at Kyoto University in Japan made a unique discovery. After adding just four proteins to skin cells after two weeks, they noticed that some cells rejuvenated and turned into stem cells, almost identical to those found in a one-day-old embryo.
Now a number of biotech companies and research labs are talking about the possibility developing an unprecedented new technology for rejuvenation using controlled doses of reprogramming proteins.
One of the key promoters of this idea, Richard Klausner, organizer and chief scientist of Altos Labs, spoke at a retreat in San Diego in June and demonstrated data from unpublished experiments that resulted in sick mice becoming healthy.
Klausner suggested “medical rejuvenation” – a way to take old animals and make them “young”.
This is possible by resetting the epigenome – chemical markers on DNA that control which genes are turned on or off in a cell. With age, some of these markers become misaligned. Reprogramming – it's the technology that can bring them back. However, there are risks and dangerous changes, up to the occurrence of cancer.
During his presentation, Klausner showed slides stating that obese mice were cured of diabetes after treatment, while others were able to survive ordinary lethal doses painkillers – all thanks to a healthy dose of medical rejuvenation.
“We think we can turn back the clock”, — the scientist told the audience.
David Sinclair, head of the aging lab at Harvard University, says the technology could allow people to live much longer than they do today. “I predict that one day it will become normal to go to the doctor and get a prescription for a drug that will take you back a decade. There is no reason why we could not live 200 years”,– said Sinclair at the same event.
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