Is Regenerative Medicine the Key to Anti-Aging?
Everyone knows that there really is no fountain of youth. But scientists are busy searching for answers to the aging process. And while there may never be a way to completely stop or reverse aging, there have been some surprising discoveries in anti-aging medicine that may help to slow down the aging process for a longer, healthier life.
Rejuvenating diseased cells into healthy ones
The older we get, the more our cells break down. That’s what leads to many different conditions related to old age, like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and others. This cellular breakdown is also what is responsible for the aging process in our bodies. In fact, age-related diseases cause more than 100,000 deaths per day.
Some scientists believe that patients can possibly gain an extra 30 years of life by using rejuvenation technologies. One such technology utilizes stem cells, but there are problems with these cells. They may not renew quickly enough, or they may begin to replicate uncontrollably, resulting in cancer. But stem cell therapy does hold promise for treating all types of diseases, and hopefully, slowing down the aging process as well.
Promising stem cell research
One stem cell that holds promise for anti-aging is the Mesenchymal stem cells, derived from bone marrow. Scientists have studied the human Mesenchymal stem cells for their anti-aging effects regarding their impact on treating frailty, an age-related decline in a person’s strength, endurance and various other physical abilities. The results were promising, and the FDA may possibly give permission for its use as an anti-aging protocol.
Telomeres may be the keys to unlocking anti-aging
Other scientists are focused on telomeres, the end caps to our DNA strands. When DNA replicates, it loses some of the information held within the telomere. The more they replicate, the more information that is lost, and eventually the cells stop replicating completely. By focusing on the telomeres and helping to keep the cells replicating at the rate they once did without losing information, scientists hope to significantly slow the aging process.
In China, doctors are using Metformin as a pharmacological reagent to improve wound healing. They have also found that Metformin has the unique ability to counteract aging in the same way that caloric restriction does. While Metformin is widely prescribed as an anti-hyperglycemic medication for Type II diabetes, it is now being studied for its unique ability to mimic caloric restriction.
Anti-Aging Through Regeneration
A newer approach to anti-aging treatment was developed that uses a technology called “induced tissue regeneration.” This technique combines telomerase therapy with induced tissue regeneration to study their impact on age-related diseases. These include Type II diabetes, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease and other diseases.
The technology focuses on a type of cell-only recently recognized within the human body by researchers. Younger people have a large amount of these cells, but as we age these cells are lost. So researchers are trying to find a way to restore these unique cells in order to reverse age-related metabolic imbalance.
Humans have the ability to regenerate damaged tissues, like animals that include the Mexican salamander. But humans can only regenerate these tissues during the first few weeks of development. Now, scientists are using advanced technology and artificial intelligence to identify ways to unlock this ability in humans. If that can be accomplished, there’s no telling where this technology may take us.
The Future of Anti-Aging
With all the excitement of new discoveries and new technologies, there are many breakthroughs on the horizon. Most will be to treat age-related diseases, but there will always be an eye on the never-ending search for the fountain of youth.
Image Credit: Idaho National Laboratory | Flickr