A team of US scientists have discovered a new form of gene therapy that they claim can reverse the ageing process. This is achieved by targeting the genes that turn skin cells back into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) – powerful stem cells similar to those found in embryos.
A six-week lab study on mice found that the animals not only looked younger, but boasted better cardiovascular health, straighter spines, healed more quickly and lived 30% longer. “Our study shows that ageing may not have to proceed in one single direction,” Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte of California’s Salk Institute told The Guardian. “With careful modulation, ageing might be reversed.”
Although this therapy is not yet appropriate for use on humans, these findings have huge implications for the health, wellbeing and beauty industry. Scientists predict clinical trials for humans targeting these genes via drugs and topical creams – rather than genetic embryo manipulation – could well be under way within the next 10 years.