Aging, while not always a pleasant topic, is always relevant. Scientists at the Gene Expression Laboratory at Salk have announced some exciting findings with regards to the reversal of aging’s effects. Their discoveries may soon extend beyond the petri dish and eventually benefit humans.
As past discoveries have indicated that human cells have a ‘time limit,’ researchers turn towards focused practices like cellular reprogramming to extend the human lifespan. Aside from big-picture questions regarding mortality, one must consider the implications of an artificially-extended human lifespan.
The Cellular Reprogramming Study
Scientists at the Salk Institute, under the leadership of Senior Author and Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, revealed, “Our study shows that aging may not have to proceed in one direction” in the recent issue of Cell magazine.
Cells in petri dishes and mice with progeria were subjects in the experiments. A shocking discovery was made when the cellular reprogramming technique resulted in a 30% lifespan increase for the aging disease afflicted mice.
There is an indication that cellular rejuvenation will lead to “younger looking” cells. Yet, Professor Belmonte cautions that although this research shows huge benefits in regards to aging, too much exposure creates opportunities for cancer cell development because of the rapid cell division. This is just one limitation keeping cellular reprogramming technologies from practical medical use in the near future.Professor Belmonte cautions although this research shows huge benefits in regards to aging, too much exposure creates opportunities for cancer cell development because of the rapid cell division.Click To Tweet
The recommendation is to incorporate this new advance slowly until the long term effects on humans can be studied in-depth. Lifespans are increasing, which means the rates of age-related diseases will, too. Relatively soon, the infamous quote by baseball great Satchel Page could take on greater meaning, “If you didn’t know how old you were, how old would you be?”
This technology will help ease the physical, emotional and financial burden of aging. As such, we hope that its practical development comes soon. What is more important is the suggestion that aging is not linear. This concept could undercut any moral argument to the extension of human lifespan.