Harvard scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute say they have for the first time partially reversed age-related degeneration in mice, resulting in new growth of the brain and testes, improved fertility, and the return of a lost cognitive function.
In a report posted online by the journal Nature in advance of print publication, researchers led by Ronald A. DePinho said they achieved the milestone in aging science by engineering mice with a controllable telomerase gene. The telomerase enzyme maintains the protective caps called telomeres that shield the ends of chromosomes.
The projection of chromosomes seen here shows telomeres (highlighted in red) on their ends.
The work showed a dramatic reversal of many aspects of aging, including reversal of brain disease and infertility. The telomerase boost also lengthened the rodents’ life spans compared to their untreated counterparts — but they did not live longer than normal mice, said the researchers.
The authors concluded, “This unprecedented reversal of age-related decline in the central nervous system and other organs vital to adult mammalian health justifies exploration of telomere rejuvenation strategies for age-associated diseases.”