Previous research into slowing the aging process has involved blocking pathways in the brain that produce certain protein complexes, switching back on genes that have been turned off due to epigenetic regulation, and activating a gene that increased the lifespan of common fruit flies.
‘Embryonic gene Nanog replenishes and reboots adult stem cells, that become less effective as the body ages. This will help reverse or slow down the process of aging.’
This new study, by researchers from University at Buffalo (UB), New York, found that to battle aging, body holds a reservoir of non- specialized called adult stem cells, that are found throughout the body and can rush in to replenish dying cells as required and regenerate organs. The problem is, as people get older, these stem cells become less and less effective, which results in the well-known symptoms and disorders of aging. Reversing the effects of aging on adult stem cells, essentially rebooting them, can help overcome this problem.
Introducing Nanog into aged stem cells triggered a chain reaction that helps those cells regain their former regeneration abilities. First, Nanog opened two key cellular pathways, known as Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) and Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β). As a result, dormant proteins called actin are reactivated, which provide the stem cells with the structure needed to form muscle cells that can contract. The force these cells generate helps improve the regeneration capabilities of the adult stem cells.
The team conducted tests on three different samples of cells aged in different ways, cells taken from aged donors, cells aged in culture in the lab, and those isolated from patients suffering from Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that ages sufferers at an accelerated rate. The Nanog gene was found to work in all three cases. "Not only does Nanog have the capacity to delay aging, it has the potential in some cases to reverse it," says Stelios Andreadis, one of the authors of the study.
Nanog was also shown to activate the central regulator of muscle formation, serum response factor (SRF), which suggests that the same effect could be achieved in skeletal, cardiac and other muscles types. The researchers are now working to identify drugs that can replicate or mimic the effects of Nanog. This will help them studdy whether the aspects of aging is reversed inside the human body.
The research was published in the journal Stem Cells