Sunday Sep 25, 201102:24 PM GMT
Stem cells may help chronic diseases
Sun Sep 25, 2011 2:26PM
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American scientists have reversed the aging process for human adult stem cells, raising the hope for treating chronic and age-related diseases.

Scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the Georgia Institute of Technology managed to reverse the biological clock in adult stem cells and keep them young and active.

The modern “stem cell hypothesis of aging” suggests that the regenerative power of tissues and organs declines as adult stem cells grow older and get damaged through the natural process of aging.

Understanding the processes that enable human adult stem cells to initiate self-renewal and to divide, proliferate and then differentiate in order to rejuvenate damaged tissue might be the key to regenerative medicine and an eventual cure for many age-related diseases.

The study showed that during the aging process the end part of DNA molecules called telomeres become shorter while adult stem cells almost remain intact.

Researchers found that most of the damage in self-renewing adult stem cells occurred within small sections of DNA, known as transposable elements or retrotransposons, which were previously thought to be non-functional.

According to the report published in the journal Cell Cycle , scientists managed to reverse the process of human adult stem cell aging in lab by suppressing the accumulation of toxic transcripts from retrotransposons.

“We demonstrated that we were able to reverse the process of aging for human adult stem cells by intervening with the activity of non-protein coding RNAs originated from genomic regions once dismissed as non-functional 'genomic junk',” said lead author Victoria Lunyak.

Researchers say if they can find a way to keep adult stem cells young and active, these cells may be used for repairing damaged tissues affected by aging or chronic diseases.

The discovery may lead to effective and novel treatments for conditions such as heart attack, arthritis, diabetes and osteoporosis and even regenerating bones and healing wounds.

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