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Proteins that reprogram cells can turn back mice’s aging clock

Treatment increased life spans of prematurely aging rodents

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12:00pm, December 15, 2016
aging mice

OUT WITH THE OLD  Partially reprogramming cells in the body may reverse some signs of aging. Shown are a mouse with a premature aging disease called progeria (left) and a mouse with progeria that got reprogramming treatments (right).

Four proteins that can transform adult cells into embryonic-like ones can also turn back the aging clock, a new study in mice suggests.

Partial reprogramming of cells within prematurely aging mice’s bodies extended the rodents’ average life span from 18 weeks to 24 weeks, researchers report December 15 in Cell. Normal mice saw benefits, too: Muscles and pancreas cells healed better in middle-aged mice that got rejuvenation treatments than in mice that did not. The experiment could be evidence that epigenetic marks — chemical tags on DNA and proteins that change with age, experience, disease and environmental exposures — are a driving factor of aging. Some marks accumulate with age while others are lost.

“It’s an inspiring paper,” says Jan van Deursen, a biologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who studies diseases of aging. He gives the paper an “A

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