Skin cells act 30 years younger thanks to an anti-ageing technology.

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Skin cells act 30 years younger thanks to an anti-ageing technology.


Skin cells have been subjected to substances that cause them to revert their development but remain their function, resulting in a type of stem cell that performs its original function in the body.

Researchers have devised a way for turning back the biological clock on skin cells by 30 years, resulting in stem cells from adult skin cells that might be utilised to treat skin diseases in the future.

Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan devised a procedure in 2007 that allowed adult skin cells to be transformed into stem cells by injecting four specialised molecules known as "Yamanaka factors" that reverse cell development. Normal cells are transformed into induced pluripotent stem cells after being exposed to these chemicals for around 50 days (iPSCs).

"You lose the original cell type and functioning when you change a cell into an iPSC," explains Diljeet Gill of the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, UK.

Gill and his colleagues have developed a procedure that utilises Yamanaka factors to regenerate skin cells while maintaining their functioning.

The researchers took skin cell samples from three human donors, all of whom were about 50 years old, and subjected them to Yamanaka factors for only 13 days to partially anti-age the cells. The Yamanaka factors were subsequently withdrawn, and the cells were allowed to develop on their own.

Our DNA is marked with chemicals as we age, so tracking these markers can help us figure out how old we are. This is referred to as the epigenetic clock. Some of our genes will flip on or off throughout time, and the transcriptome is a collection of these genes.

Gill and his colleagues discovered that the partly reprogrammed cells' epigenetic clock and transcriptome profiles resembled those of skin cells from persons 30 years younger.

The rejuvenated cells also functioned like younger cells, producing more collagen than cells that were not reprogrammed. When put on an artificial wound, the reprogrammed cells migrated considerably faster than the older ones to close the gap.

"If you cut yourself in a young person, the wound heals faster, whereas it would take me longer to recover," adds team member Wolf Reik, also of the Babraham Institute. "It's incredibly interesting — not only because of the younger molecular readouts, but also because the cell operates more like youthful cells."

According to Reik, "the main accomplishment in this work is that we can now significantly renew cells without affecting their identity or functionality." "You'd wind up with a stem cell in past experiments, which isn't what you'd want for therapy."

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