Scientists could delay aging in humans in a major breakthrough
Researchers found they could manipulate the process of aging, using computer simulations to reprogram the master circuit and modify its DNA.
California scientists may be able to delay aging in humans and extend their health span, after their study of the aging process in yeast revealed that cells made of the same genetic materials and within the same environment aged in "strikingly distinct ways".
A team of scientists from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) studied aging yeast as its cells are easily manipulated, and published their findings in the journal Science.
Using techniques including microfluidics and computer modeling, they found that about half of the yeast cells aged because of a gradual decline in the nucleolus, a round body located in the nucleus of a cell. While, the other half aged because of a dysfunction of mitochondria, which produce a cell's energy.
The study in yeast found that the cells go down one of two paths, nuclear or mitochondrial, early in life, and continue with the aging route until they ultimately decline and die.
"To understand how cells make these decisions, we identified the molecular processes underlying each aging route and the connections among them, revealing a molecular circuit that controls cell aging, analogous to electric circuits that control home appliances," said Nan Hao, senior author of the study and an associate professor in UCSD's division of biological sciences' molecular biology section.
Researchers found they could manipulate and optimize the process of aging, using computer simulations to reprogram the master circuit and modify its DNA. Following this, they were then able to create a "novel aging route" with a dramatically extended lifespan, possibly leading to the possibility of delaying human aging.
"This is an aging path that never existed, but because we understand how it is regulated, we can basically design or regulate a new aging path," Hao told CNN.
Scientists said that they plan to test their model in complex cells, organisms, and eventually, humans, as well as testing how combinations of therapeutics and drugs could lead to further longevity.