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Medicine Science

Aging Reversed In Mice 554

Posted by samzenpus
from the pressing-the-reset-button dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Guardian reports that scientists claim to be a step closer to reversing the aging process after experimental treatment developed by researchers at Harvard Medical School turned weak and feeble old mice into healthy animals by regenerating their aged bodies. 'What we saw in these animals was not a slowing down or stabilization of the aging process. We saw a dramatic reversal – and that was unexpected,' says Ronald DePinho, who led the study. The Harvard group focused on a process called telomere shortening where each time a cell divides, the telomeres are snipped shorter, until eventually they stop working and the cell dies or goes into a suspended state called 'senescence.' Researchers bred genetically manipulated mice that lacked an enzyme called telomerase that stops telomeres getting shorter causing the mice to age prematurely and suffer ailments, including a poor sense of smell, smaller brain size, infertility and damaged intestines and spleens. When the mice were given injections to reactivate the enzyme, it repaired the damaged tissues and reversed the signs of aging raising hope among scientists that it may be possible to achieve a similar feat in humans – or at least to slow down the aging process."
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Aging Reversed In Mice

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  • For the most part, most of us live long enough. What is necessary is a substantial increase in the quality of our lives, not an increase in the length of it. If this treatment can return youthful vigor to our cells, that is something amazing. So far we've been relegated to using HGH or steroids or exercise and diet to control our aging process. However, the actual cellular aging progresses unhindered.

    A treatment that does not require diet and exercise modifications is sorely needed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by siddesu (698447)

      [quote]A treatment that does not require diet and exercise modifications is sorely needed.[/quote]

      Absolutely. Because quality of life is measured by how much you can eat in front of your computer without gaining weight.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

        Or, you know, strengthen blood vessel walls so strokes don't occur, restore pulmonary tissue so the heart stays strong, improve muscle tone and joints so mobility is retained, stimulate bone growth to protect against osteoporosis.

        Yeah, it's all about sitting in front of your computer eating what you want all day long...

      • by ultranova (717540) on Monday November 29, 2010 @11:26AM (#34374660)

        Absolutely. Because quality of life is measured by how much you can eat in front of your computer without gaining weight.

        Since most people nowadays spend their days that way out of necessity... yes. Quality of life is increased by having your body tolerate its normal usage. It lowers your quality of life that you have to spend several hours a week running in circles and lifting weights just to keep your muscle mass from disappearing and being replaced by useless fat tissue.

        I suppose that this might violate some people's ideal of having to earn everything with sweat and blood, but hey: they're free to go jog in a snowstorm while I sit in front of my computer and eat potato chips.

    • by Nursie (632944)

      For the most part, most of us live long enough. What is necessary is a substantial increase in the quality of our lives, not an increase in the length of it.

      Speak for yourself. I want to live forever.

      If a therapy can be designed that not only regenerates the major body organs but stimulates the brain as well (and it sounds like this does) then holy, moley - yes please!

      Obviously there are big problems with applying this to humans (cancer), but still.

      • by soundguy (415780) on Monday November 29, 2010 @07:10AM (#34372922) Homepage

        Speak for yourself. I want to live forever.

        You're a 20-something, aren't you? Come back and say that in another half a century. Life isn't all that "must-have" after a bunch of decades, even if you're in perfect health. The main problem is that after numerous years of life-experience, you start realizing what unbelievable sacks of shit most people truly are. If YOU get to live forever, you're going to have to deal with THEM forever too.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Takes one to know one?

          If you look for certain characteristics in people, you will see them disproportionally to other qualities.

        • by Krneki (1192201) on Monday November 29, 2010 @07:22AM (#34372992)

          Speak for yourself. I want to live forever.

          You're a 20-something, aren't you? Come back and say that in another half a century. Life isn't all that "must-have" after a bunch of decades, even if you're in perfect health. The main problem is that after numerous years of life-experience, you start realizing what unbelievable sacks of shit most people truly are. If YOU get to live forever, you're going to have to deal with THEM forever too.

          You die when you stop enjoying life.

          The more I love life, the more beautiful people I meet.

          I'm sorry that you lost the love for living.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Amorymeltzer (1213818)

            You die when you stop enjoying Apple.
            The more I love porn, the more beautiful people I imagine.
            I'm sorry that you lost the copyright infringement lawsuit.

            FTFY, GivesMeHope is thatta way ->
            This place is for disaffected geeks trying to feel superior.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Tajarix (604495)
            A beautiful sentiment, but naïve. A lot of these "I want to live forever" statements lack wisdom which usually comes with aging, at some point.

            It's about time. Time is the most valuable currency we have. We have a finite amount of it. It helps define us and give each moment meaning.

            Hypothetical immortality (think Tolkien's elves) would remove all value in time.

            Can you imagine a world where people no longer cared about time any longer? They no longer cared about change? I don't think we'v
        • Speak for yourself. I want to live forever.

          You're a 20-something, aren't you? Come back and say that in another half a century. Life isn't all that "must-have" after a bunch of decades, even if you're in perfect health. The main problem is that after numerous years of life-experience, you start realizing what unbelievable sacks of shit most people truly are. If YOU get to live forever, you're going to have to deal with THEM forever too.

          No, I reckon I could find a way to avoid the Other Humans. For a while, anyway. Particularly age tends to teach survival skills. If you can stay in good physical shape at the same time, living in remote areas may be easier.

          See: The grotto of the dancing deer by Clifford Simak.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dunbal (464142) *

          Plus imagine what would happen to the population if people started living forever. Living forever means being able to fuck forever. Of course mandatory sterilization would be impossible to implement, and of course the babies would want to live forever too, so we would truly see a population explosion like never before.

          • by tagno25 (1518033)

            But we would tera-form Mars, Venus, and the moon, create colonies in space, and send deep space shuttles out to possibly habitable worlds.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by c0lo (1497653)

            Plus imagine what would happen to the population if people started living forever. Living forever means being able to fuck forever. Of course mandatory sterilization would be impossible to implement, and of course the babies would want to live forever too, so we would truly see a population explosion like never before.

            Assuming you know you are to live forever, what's the rush in breading children? At least until the Earth runs out of latex, you can keep fucking.

          • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday November 29, 2010 @08:25AM (#34373256)
            Living forever is the province of Lord British and the Avatar's Companions, and has been so for thousands of years. There is no reason to think ordinary folk would get the treatment.
        • by c0lo (1497653)

          The main problem is that after numerous years of life-experience, you start realizing what unbelievable sacks of shit most people truly are. If YOU get to live forever, you're going to have to deal with THEM forever too.

          If I'd know I'm to live forever, I might not get desperate and try to deal with all the sacks of shit in this world: you know, if you don't need to compromise (like: life is too short and you still want a home by the time your 35) then you might decide to just not compromise... what's the rush?

        • by CrackedButter (646746) on Monday November 29, 2010 @08:26AM (#34373258) Homepage Journal
          I'm hitting 30. My ambition to live forever is stronger now than it was when I was 15. All the shit given to me over the years hasn't had an impact. You sound like you want to die because it might become depressing. The simplest answer would be to move away and live in a different part of the world for 50 years. Imagine the opportunity to do that and really start life anew?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          If you're that disgusted with life after thirty-, forty-, fifty, sixty-something years it has nothing to do with your age. Many people live that long and longer and find something to love.

          Maybe you need a hobby.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by RsG (809189)

          If YOU get to live forever, you're going to have to deal with THEM forever too.

          Fair trade off, as far as I'm concerned. After all, we're all "THEM" from somebody else's point of view, right?

          Besides, "they" aren't individual people, "they" are other people. Douchebags come in all ages, all groups and all eras. If you and your least favourite person both lived without ageing, would your life be improved by their death? No. You'd find someone else to take their place.

          Learning to live with other human beings you dislike is a skill. I've met people who never learned it in the first p

        • by FauxPasIII (75900) on Monday November 29, 2010 @11:34AM (#34374746)

          Maybe. I'm only 32, but I would definitely take the live-forever serum if it was offered to me at this point. I'm already having to snip lower-priority things off my life goals list just due to lack of time. Maybe after I'm fluent in all spoken and written languages, fully understand current mathematics and number theory, fully grok current physics, have an encyclopedic knowledge of world history, have mastered cooking, dancing, martial arts, race driving, race flying, have built a computer by hand and written a POSIX-compatible operating system in its native assembly language, have built a car by hand and raced it, have visited every culture in the world and learned their customs well enough to interact freely with them... by the time I've done all those things I have a feeling I'll have thought of a list twice as long of things yet to do, but that sounds like at least three or four hundred years I'll need before I even get through the obvious stuff, and that's if I don't spend a large amount of time just relaxing with my family (which I will).

          You seriously couldn't think of any fulfilling ways to spend a couple thousand years?

      • by Dunbal (464142) *

        I want to live forever.

              Ahh but you forget trauma and violent death. No one lives forever, even if your body was capable of it. Eventually you will see enough of your friends and loved ones die, and the world will change so much, that you will probably consider suicide.

        • by Nursie (632944)

          Still sounds preferable to me.

          There may be widespread societal effects from that sort of thing, but on a personal level I'd love it.

    • by Kokuyo (549451) on Monday November 29, 2010 @06:44AM (#34372820) Journal

      You're an engineer, aren't you?

      You go: Well, a lot of our problems come from lack of excercise and bad diet. So... we need to tweak our bodies to no longer be troubled by that.

      Personally, I'd prefer to see a social and economic reevaluation, that just plain leaves you more time and resources to live a more healthy life in the first place.

      Being able to take the time to do these things the usual way would mean a proportional decrease in stress on top of the healthier living.

      So in short: Instead of fixing what is broken, make it so it doesn't break in the first place.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        "Personally, I'd prefer to see a social and economic reevaluation, that just plain leaves you more time and resources to live a more healthy life in the first place."

        Given how prevalent human laziness and greed seems to be on this planet, I think more time and more resources would only lead to an exacerbation of the problem.

        • by Kokuyo (549451)

          You sure? After all, a lot of this so called laziness can stem from not being challenged enough, being unhappy with ones profession or work environment. In turn, lack of resources would be what makes you remain in that position. A vicious circle.

          There'll always be lazy people, of course, but I do believe only a small percentage of those we see behaving like that actually do it because that's what they like to do.

          On the other hand, if a week of work just powers you out completely, from whence would you take

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HeckRuler (1369601)

        Personally, I'd prefer to see a social and economic reevaluation, [one] that just plain leaves you more time and resources to live a more healthy life in the first place.

        A "social and economic reevaluation"? That's a revolution. Usually it involves a lot of warfare and death. But feel free to reevaluate your own life, nobody is stopping you there.

        And as far as revolutions go, getting everyone more time or more resources is feasible, but getting everyone BOTH is kind of an impossibility. Who pays for it? I mean, you're essentially arguing that the socio-economic system we currently have should change so that you have to work less and get paid more. That's just a daydream.

  • Mice bread without an enzyme age prematurely. Injecting them with the enzyme reversed this process. This does not necessarily mean that injecting normal mice with more of the enzyme will have any affect on their ageing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Nursie (632944)

      MMmmmmm. Mice bread.

      Goes well with cheese.

    • Mice bread

      It stops squeaking and struggling after a minute or two in the toaster. The fur might get stuck in your teeth, though.

    • If scientists can breed humans with mice, creating mice-men, this idea has potential. I think Monty Python even did a skit on this, where perverts dressed up as mice, and went to parties, where they "squeaked" and passed cheese around.

      Definitely an idea that is worthy of a Hollywood B film.

      If the mice bread experiments go wrong, we can always pop them into the toaster.

  • by josgeluk (842109) on Monday November 29, 2010 @06:16AM (#34372700) Homepage
    It was probably the unexpected attention that the elderly mice got, that made them feel happy and youthful. That, and a placebo effect.
  • Cells do not normally produce telomerase on their own because not producing it protects against cancer. Turning on the gene that makes telomerase is one of the hurdles pre-cancerous cells have to cross on their way to becoming cancerous.

    Also, as someone else pointed out, telomeres are just one aspect of aging. You can induce mice to age prematurely by restricting embryonic expression of telomerase, but that doesn't necessarily mean that mice that age normally will be similarly completely restored by adding it.

    There are a number of degenerative diseases (macular degeneration and probably alzheimers) that happen because of inadequate waste removal. No amount of telomerase is going to cause all the little protein fragments lying around to be magically cleaned up and excreted.

    • by kcbnac (854015)

      I didn't study much of biology, so there may be obvious things I'm missing.

      BUT

      If we can turn it on and off again, isn't this a step towards curing cancerous cells? (Telling them to self-terminate, or at least limiting their tree of spawned cells?)

      At least it is proof that we can manipulate the cells at that level, now just to work on the side effects...

    • Maybe it is dangerous, but if you get to (say) 80+ and can only look forward to a few more years with increasing incontinence and decreasing memory (which may even make up for the incontinence) then it's got to be worth a shot. After all, it's not as if you have much to lose. Though your relatives might not appreciate the loss of any expected inheritance, and the nursing homes have a vested interest in it failing, and the whole pension / insurance industry will go broke overnight. However, if it means I co
  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Monday November 29, 2010 @06:18AM (#34372710)
    the Dick Cheneys of the world living to 140...
  • Sounds like they simply corrected a disease that was purposefully inflicted upon the mice. I don't see this as "Aging reversed" more like "Abnormally quick aging can be corrected."

    I believe the end of the Nature article link agrees. It also points out that shortening telomeres isn't the only thing that causes aging and it's defects.

    That said, this is a good baby step forward.

  • Actually Aging was not reversed. It was made faster in the first place. And then telomerase was added, and aging was normal again.

    It's nice. But sometimes it is deactivated for a reason. To stop aging we would have to stop mutating cells. Our cells still would have to divide. Our braincells would still be more or less limited. So we would have to control our tumours while getting more stupid. The biblical 120 max won't be broken any time soon.

    Still, such a news is incredible in a scientific perspective. But

  • by t0qer (230538) on Monday November 29, 2010 @06:48AM (#34372832) Homepage Journal
    While I see some folks saying "no one should live forever" let me ask you this... What about space travelers? Don't you think on 100+ year trips, living forever might be a good thing?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dhalka226 (559740)

      I think 100+ years spent in a tin can with other people is something that has such an incredibly high chance of causing extreme psychological issues that I would not agree to send them, volunteers or not. And it raises a whole host of ethical issues as well, such as whether the travelers would have some right to kill one another if they perceived a threat or what to do with some immortal space traveling hero should he try to return to society and be utterly unable to reintegrate, similar to how a lot of ex

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 29, 2010 @06:55AM (#34372850)

    They've already done this with dolphins. It involves feeding them seagulls. Unfortunately, the lead scientist was arrested when he stepped across a lion sleeping in the doorway to the lab, after catching a few seagulls.

    The charge: transporting gulls across a staid lion for immortal porpoises.

    Mark Edwards

  • The stock price of the Umbrella Corporation was up 36 points amid heavy trading as the markets opened this morning...
  • Just in time to rescue the Most Valuable Generation, the Baby Boomers!

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