San Diego

San Diego's Salk Institute Seeks to Slow Aging

San Diego’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla is searching for a way to extend cell life, and a recent study suggests researchers have found what they are looking for.

Experiments with cell reprogramming have succeeded in making mature human in vitro cells act younger by reverting them so that genetic age markers are erased. However, the ability to successfully make in vivo cells act younger eluded researchers because fully reprogramming cells back often results in cancerous tumors.

The Salk study shows partial reprogramming of in vivo mice cells results in improved cellular lifespan and reduced physical signs of aging.

Salk Research Associate Alejandro Ocampo, the lead author of the study, said now the goal is to recreate this experiment on humans using chemicals.

Ocampo said experiments like this are important because the cost of treating declined health is a major problem in society.

“We are just trying to improve quality of life, not extend lifespan to 200 years or immortality, said Ocampo. “We think it might be possible to eventually extend life to 140 to 150 years, but we are focusing on reducing diseases.”

The study shows it is possible to rejuvenate aging cells to a younger state.

Once researchers learn more about the process of removing the hallmarks of aging cells, Ocampo said they could begin experiments with humans within the next five to 10 years.

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