Benjamin Button Real? Scientists on the verge of deciphering the code to reverse aging

Paris Barbra Streisand loved her dog Samantha, also known as Sammy. Soft and fluffy white, the Coton of Tulle was even present on the steps of the Elysee Palace, the official residence of the French president, when Streisand was awarded the Legion of Honor in 2007.

As explained by the singer and actress inNew York times In 2018, she loved Sami so much that she couldn’t bring herself to see her die The dog was a clone by a company in Texas for a modest $50,000 shortly before her death in 2017, at the age of 14, thus Barbra Streisand became the happy owner of Miss Violet and Queen Scarlett, two puppies that are a spitting image of the deceased Samantha.

This may sound like a joke, but there is one very disturbing fact that Harvard Medical School professor of genetics, David A. Sinclair in his book Why do we age – and why don’t we have to. This is that clone Old The dog led to two small Puppies.

This proves that our DNA – as well as Sami – has everything it takes to restore lost youth. This is a property that can be used to “reverse” aging without having to go through the stage of a cloning problem.

The idea is to select the “Reset” button of the organism. And aging professionals have the same good news to announce: This button has been found.

Multi-billion dollar startup

Its name sounds like an interesting technical Japanese title: “The Yamanaka Factors.” But Shinya Yamanaka is not a fictional character. He is a scientist specializing in stem cell research who has received a 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

If this all sounds a bit science fiction, you should know that American biotech company Altos Labs, which was just founded early this year, received a $3 billion check from billionaires Yuri Milner and Jeff Bezos. Not bad to start. But this is the beginning of a very promising technology – cellular reprogramming, which is nothing more than the name given by biologists to the famous “reset” button.

In 2006-2007, Yamanaka announced to the scientific community that he had discovered a set of four genes – Oct4, Klf4, Sox2, and c-Myc – which, when injected into a cell, prompt it to switch from a differentiated cell (nerve), blood, etc.) To be a pluripotent stem cell, any cell that can later be redeveloped into any type of cell.

french hack

It didn’t take long for Yamanaka’s colleagues to take advantage of his startling discovery. In 2011, French researcher Jean-Marc Lemaitre, who worked at the Institute of Functional Genomics at the University of Montpellier (who has never received the same financial support as the US biotech company Altos Labs!) was the first to demonstrate experimentally, on human tissue, that cell aging was a process reversible. He and his team successfully converted aging or advanced human skin cells into young skin cells.

The process has since been improved, since it is no longer necessary to go through the phase of pluripotent cells – which can turn cancerous – to reverse cell aging. Cutting the process before reaching this stage is enough to start a genetic chain reaction Anti-aging cellular.

but that is not all. Since Lemaître’s pioneering work, biologists from both sides of the Atlantic have shown that what was possible at the cell level is also possible at the level of the organism as a whole. As is often the case, they used mice as guinea pigs. At the end of 2016, in A famous study published by the journal “Cell”Professor at the Salk Institute (San Diego, California) Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte revealed the promising results recorded on genetically modified rodents.

The genome of the rodents was enriched with Yamanaka factors as well as a small piece of additional genetic code, which corresponds to a kind of on-off switch. By controlling the activation of the four genes, this same “stimulator” was only activated if the mouse ingested an antibiotic – doxycycline to be exact.

By prescribing this molecule (and thus activating the Yamanaka factors) two days a week throughout the lives of mice, Belmonte and his team increased their lifespan by 40%. And he triumphantly declared: “Aging is no longer a one-way process, as we thought. We can slow it down and even reverse it.” In a very similar experiment, Jean-Marc Lemaitre obtained a much more modest lengthening, by 15%, but thanks to a single dose of doxycycline. Above all, the French researcher insists, this “extra” age is proven to be free of all age-related diseases: osteoporosis, arthritis, pulmonary or renal fibrosis, etc.

White hair turns dark

Gene-editing mice is a common practice in laboratories. But should we do the same with humans to get the same result? There was a public outcry in 2018 when Chinese researcher He Jiankui gave birth to genome-tampered twins – the first genetically modified babies in history – with the aim of giving them Resistance to HIV.

The way we view “genetically modified children” may change over the next few decades. But whether it changes or not, it wouldn’t have to go that far to do cell reprogramming in humans. Perhaps a simple vaccine will do the trick.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made the public aware that a vaccine – be it RNA or DNA – can be used as a vector to introduce genetic material into the human body. RNA Messenger Inc. BioNTech and Modena Vaccines do that, but many other ‘viral vectors’ exist, such as adeno-associated viruses (AAVs), non-pathogenic small DNA viruses commonly used in molecular biology to carry one or more ‘genes of interest’. On paper, nothing prevented these genes of interest from being exactly the ones that Yamanaka highlighted.

This is what our immediate future might look like. About the age of thirty, when we are – unfortunately, only temporarily! At the height of our mental and physical fitness, we will receive one or more injections of this viral vector responsible for transmitting the Yamanaka factors to us. Nothing will change in our bodies yet, as Yamanaka factors are programmed to remain silent until activated by the promoter. So we will continue to age naturally. The passing of the years will not be irreparable!

We can slow down and even reverse aging

In fact, once we start feeling it The first unwanted effects, let’s say in your mid-40s, you will be prescribed a month’s treatment with doxycycline. And then – but only then – the treatment of youth will begin. White hair disappears, wounds heal faster, wrinkles fade, organs regenerate, glasses become useless … “Like Benjamin Button,” wrote David Sinclair, “You will experience sensations at the age of 35. Then 30. Then 25. But unlike Benjamin Patton, you will not go beyond this limit, for the statute of limitations will be interrupted…without losing any of your knowledge, wisdom, or memories.”

Of course, such a possibility, if it became a reality, and especially if it spread on a large scale, would revolutionize large parts of society and would not be without its difficult problems of a planet with limited resources. But who of us, once we reach a certain age, We will not dream of regaining our lost youth, While retaining the “experience benefits”?

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