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Scientists think it's possible to reverse the aging process

By Tim Sandle     Aug 3, 2016 in Science
The fountain of youth may be a myth but a gene called Nanog might lead to the same effect. A new research breakthrough could bring with it treatments for conditions like atherosclerosis, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.
Nanog is a gene that seems to be able to activate dormant cellular processes, specifically involved with self-renewal of undifferentiated embryonic stem cells. These biochemical reactions are linked to the prevention of weak bones, clogged arteries and other age-related physiological conditions.
Aging is a normal biological process. However, the human body is equipped is make the process as hard as possible. To combat aging the body has non-specialized cells capable of regenerating organs: adult stem cells. Every organ in the body contains stem cells and under normal circumstances these cells respond as needed. The problem is that as people age the numbers of adult stem cells that function effectively decreases. Some scientists think that if a more plentiful supply of stem cells can be produced, or if the aging effects on stem cells can be reduced, then the overall effects of aging for the human body can be slowed down. Nanog appears to be the key to this.
Grant McCracken (@Grant27): "Not only does Nanog have the capacity to delay aging, it has the potential in some cases to reverse it."
Longevity Centres (@Longevity_CNTR): "Do you know what #gene could help with #antiaging? We do."
Interest in the gene stems from studies conducted by scientists at the University at Buffalo. Speaking with Laboratory Manager magazine, lead researcher Dr. Stelios T. Andreadis explains: “Our research into Nanog is helping us to better understand the process of aging and ultimately how to reverse it.”
For the research, the science group added Nanog into aged stem cells. It was found that Nanog activates two important cellular pathways called Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) and Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β.) These pathways activate a type of dormant protein (called actin) into constructing the cytoskeletons that adult stem cells require to develop muscle cells. The process appears to restore the regenerative properties of adult stem cells. So far the effects have been demonstrated with skeletal and cardiac muscle cells. It is based on these muscles that the researchers are hopeful they can one day treat conditions like atherosclerosis and osteoporosis.
Thus the research suggests that the incorporation of Nanog with stem cells can delay aging. It may be possible, although this would require further studies, to reverse aging. As part of the research, the scientists are hoping to develop a drug that replicates the effects of Nanog.
Researchers are particularly interested in the association between the gene and an aging disorder called Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome. This is an extremely rare genetic disorder in which symptoms resembling aspects of aging are manifested at a very early age. Another area where the effect might produce beneficial results is with Alzheimer’s disease.
The research has been published in the journal Stem Cells. The research paper is titled “NANOG Reverses the Myogenic Differentiation Potential of Senescent Stem Cells by Restoring ACTIN Filamentous Organization and SRF-Dependent Gene Expression.”
More about Aging, Cells, Genes, Genetics, Nanog
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