Rejuvenation of skin cell

The Babraham Institute has devised a mechanism to ‘time jump’ human skin cells by 30 years, effectively turning back the clock for cells without affecting their specialized function.

Researchers in the Institute’s Epigenetic research (Epigenetic is the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work.) department have been able to partially repair the function of aged cells while also revitalizing molecular measurements of biological age.

Regenerative medicine

Our cell’s ability to function reduces as we age, and the genome collects signs of aging. Regenerative biology seeks to repair or replace cells, including those that have died. Our ability to generate ‘induced’ stem cells is one of the most essential tools in regenerative biology. The procedure consists of numerous phases, each of which removes some of the markers that differentiate cells. In theory, these stem cells can become any cell type, but scientists have yet to successfully reproduce the conditions that allow stem cells to re-differentiate into all cell kinds.

Stem cells

These are undifferentiated cells that can turn into specific cells, as the body needs them. Adult body tissues and embryos are the two sources of stem cells.

Stem cells present in the following tissues:

  • the brain
  • bone marrow
  • blood and blood vessels
  • skeletal muscles
  • skin
  • the liver

Stem cells are important for the following reasons:

  • It increases understanding of how diseases occur.
  • It generates healthy cells to replace cells affected by disease (regenerative medicine).
  • It is used to test new drugs for safety and effectiveness.

History

The approach dates back to the 1990s when researchers at the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh established a way of converting an adult mammary gland cell from a sheep into an embryo. It resulted in the development of Dolly, a cloned sheep. The goal of the Roslin team was not to generate sheep clones or even human clones but to use the process to create so-called human embryonic stem cells. Scientists thought that by growing them into specific tissues like muscle, cartilage, and nerve cells, they would be able to replace worn-out bodily parts. Prof Shinya Yamanaka simplified the Dolly procedure in 2006.

Development

Shinya Yamanaka was the first scientist in 2007 to convert normal cells with a specified function into stem cells with the ability to develop into any cell type. The entire process of stem cell reprogramming takes around 50 days and involves four critical molecules known as the Yamanaka factors. The new technique, known as maturation phase transient reprogramming,’ exposes cells to Yamanaka factors for only 13 days. Age-related alterations have been erased at this point, and the cells have momentarily lost their individuality. The partially reprogrammed cells were allowed to develop normally for a while to see if their specific skin cell function was restored. A genome study revealed that the cells had regained skin cell markers (fibroblasts).

Current and future scenario

The prospective applications of this technology rely on the cells not just appearing younger, but also functioning as young cells. Fibroblasts produce collagen, a substance present in bones, skin, tendons, and ligaments that aids in tissue structure and wound healing. When compared to control cells that did not go through the reprogramming process, the rejuvenated fibroblasts produced more collagen proteins. Fibroblasts also migrate to places that require healing. The partially regenerated cells were examined by making an artificial cut in a layer of cells in a dish. They discovered that treated fibroblasts moved faster into the gap than older cells. This is a positive hint that one day, this study could be utilized to make cells that repair wounds more effectively.

This research may also open other therapeutic possibilities in future. The researcher have observed that it’s also affects the other linked gene eg. APBA2 gene associates with Alzheimer’s disease and MAF gene associates with development of cataract both showed changes in youthful level of transcription.

Scientist highlighted that the research findings represent a significant advancement in understanding of cell reprogramming. Scientist demonstrated that cells can be rejuvenated without losing function, and that rejuvenation attempts to restore some function to old cells. The fact that a reversal of ageing indicators observed in genes associated with diseases is especially encouraging for the future of this research.

Endnote

The implications of this work are really exciting. Scientists may eventually be able to find rejuvenating genes that do not require reprogramming and selectively target them to minimize the consequences of ageing. This method has the potential to yield crucial discoveries that could pave the way for a fantastic therapeutic horizon.

– Varada Ukidave

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