Drug That Keeps Us Young: Scientists Coax Stem Cells To Continually Replace Aging Cells, Keeping You Young

The drug that can keep our minds agile and our muscles supple has been identified by scientists.

Though the research is in its absolute infancy, this is the first step towards a treatment that effectively restores youth to multiple parts of the body at once. The drug successfully restored the youthful nimbleness of muscles and alertness of the mind in mice, effectively making them not just look, feel, and act, but be young on a biological level.

It is a known fact that as we age, various parts of our body start diminishing their ability and eventually fail. This is primarily because there comes a time when adult stem cells stop replacing our damaged cells. However, scientists have found that a drug, referred to as Alk5 Kinase Inhibitor that can perk-up old stem cells in various tissue types around the body. These stem cells in turn rapidly replace old and damaged cells. In simpler terms the drug restores the ability of our stem cells to keep us young at a molecular level, shared David Schaffer from the University of California, Berkeley Stem Cell Center in the U.S.

“We established that you can use a single small molecule to rescue essential function in not only aged brain tissue but aged muscle. That is good news, because if every tissue had a different molecular mechanism for aging, we wouldn’t be able to have a single intervention that rescues the function of multiple tissues.”

Scientists are excited primarily because this approach is radically different than previous attempts, which were aimed at specific organs. This drug could help make the whole body, including the brain, function as if it were younger. The trick was to alter the stem cell environment and triggers that mandated the deterioration of our bodies as we age. If these triggers are prevented from happening and the stem cells are coaxed at continuing their healing process, we can stay young.

Incidentally, a similar research way back in 2005 managed to get similar results, but with a slightly altered process. The earlier process involved infusing old mice with blood from their younger counterparts and rejuvenate aging stem cells. However, drug transfusions aren’t just impractical, they are often quite risky to the recipient.

Interestingly Alk5 kinase inhibitor is already being trialed as an anticancer agent. Turns out the scientists are finding additional uses for drugs that were being used for quite a different purpose.

[Image Credit | Getty, UC Berkeley]