Time ticks away mercilessly and that is all too apparent in our bodies. Grey hairs, wrinkles, bad eye-sight, memory loss... It's all part of the aging process. No one can escape time, but the scientists of the Salk Institute have an answer. They have managed to turn back the aging process in mammals. In ten years, there will possibly be tests on human beings, and if the treatment works well on us, we will all easily become one hundred years old.
American scientists of the Salk Institute in the American State California have found a way to turn back the aging process in mice. Not only do the animals look healthier, they also live up to thirty per cent longer.
Using a new technology, the scientists turn back mature cells into their embryonic form, in effect turning back the clock for those cells. The technology consists of the stimulation of four genes which are mainly active during their development in the uterus. Tests have shown that the clock can also be turned back for skin cells, causing the skin to look fresh and young once more.
Tests on human beings
The scientists hope to develop a medicine which mimics the effect of the four genes. It would take about ten years before the new technology can be tested on human beings. "Our study shows that the aging process is not a one-way street", says doctor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte. "We can turn it around."
Of course, it will be a lot more difficult to turn the aging process around in human beings than in mice, but the study does show that aging is a dynamic process. "The process is more easily changeable than we initially thought ", Belmonte says.
One hundred years old
Scientists feared that the special 'gene technology' would damage organs or even cause cancer. But this new study shows that turning back the aging process can be made possible without negative side-effects. If the technology works just as well in humans as in mice, then we will easily live up to one hundred years old.
Not only would we be able to become much older, but we would also stay healthy a lot longer. Age-related illnesses such as dementia, cancer and heart disease would be delayed until a later age.