Science continues to work on ways to help human beings achieve their dreams of remaining forever young, or at least looking that way. A new genetic experiment conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham offers promise in reversing two of the most common and visible effects of aging. In fact, according to the scientific research paper published on Friday in the journal, Cell Death & Disease, researchers were successful in turning back the clock on older, wrinkled, and balding mice when they conducted the age-reversal experiment.
When the experiment was done, mice who had previously suffered from severely wrinkled skin and spotty, thinning hair looked identical to their younger counterparts with smooth skin and full hair growth, according to a summary of the experiment posted on Science Daily.
“To our knowledge, this observation is unprecedented,” said Keshav Singh, the lead researcher on the study and a professor of genetics in the University of Alabama at Birmingham medical school, as quoted by Science Daily.
So what did Singh and his team of genetic researchers do to produce this seemingly amazing result? They simply “turned off” a gene in the mice that was causing a malfunction of cellular mitochondria. When the dysfunction was reversed, so were the aging symptoms, according to a UAB summary of the work.
Mitochondria are specialized structures known as organelles that live within each cell, and provide much of the energy used by every cell in the human body, or the body of any animal or plant, according to Live Science. In fact, the many mitochondria that live within each cell are believed to provide up to 90 percent of the energy used by the cell. When mitochondria go bad, cells also become diseased and die.
After causing the mitochondrial dysfunction in the mice, the UAB scientists observed the mice developing severe aging symptoms, specifically skin wrinkles and hair loss, within a matter of weeks. By restoring function to the damaged mouse mitochondria in the UAB experiment, the effects of aging were erased and the mice regained their youthful appearance.
“This mouse model should provide an unprecedented opportunity for the development of preventive and therapeutic drug development strategies to augment the mitochondrial functions for the treatment of aging-associated skin and hair pathology and other human diseases in which mitochondrial dysfunction plays a significant role,” Singh said, as quoted by News India.
That means the experiment could, in the long run, lead to new drugs and other therapies that would restore a youthful appearance in aging human beings, as well as in lab mice.