On this episode of Lifespan News, Emmett Short explains a recent study discussing a gene therapy that has allowed mice to express reprogramming factors.
Cellular reprogramming is one of the hottest topics in longevity science right now. In fact, billions of dollars are flowing into this technology and companies like Altos Labs, reportedly backed by Jeff Bezos. Now, a new preprint study describes how using gene therapy to induce reprogramming can increase the lifespans of mice. I was hoping for humans, but it’s mice again. Mice keep getting the good stuff.
Welcome to Lifespan News. I’m Emmett Short. If you’ve been watching this channel, you probably know all about Yamanaka factors – four genes, known together as OSKM – and their potential to reprogram cells and rejuvenate them all the way back to stem cells that don’t even know what type of cell they want to be when they grow up and some of them grow up to be cancer. If you didn’t know about Yamanaka Factors, no problem, you can check out this video from our partners at Science To Save the World, linked here and in the video description.
In this study, wild-type mice which, interestingly, are not mice that play their boombox loud on the subway, no no, they are mice that have not been genetically modified. These mice were given an adeno-associated virus (AAV) to modify wild-type mice so that they express three Yamanaka factors, O, S, and K, in the presence of the antibiotic doxycycline. The missing Yamanaka factor, M, was omitted in this study potentially because overexpression has been linked to cancer.
The doxycycline was administered in carefully timed doses in order to spur partial, rather than total, reprogramming. We’re not trying to go back in the womb here. We’re just trying to get a little younger. Both the control group and the treatment group were injected with doxycycline in weekly on/off cycles. By itself, doxycycline was not found to significantly alter the lifespan of mice. However, the genetically modified mice experienced significantly reduced frailty and increased lifespans to over 124 weeks, which is extremely ancient for mice.
Other benefits were visible at the epigenetic level. The genetically modified mice had significantly less age acceleration according to the Lifespan Uber Clock, an epigenetic clock trained on these tissues. A related experiment on human epidermal cells showed similar benefits, with a substantially reduced predicted age.
Teratomas, a type of tumor that can contain hair, muscle, teeth and more, have been known to occur with uncontrolled OSK expression. Thankfully the researchers note that there were no significant side effects in any of the treated animals in this study.
This study was relatively brief and simple compared to most studies of its kind, but the results are clear and easy to interpret. This research shows that OSK induction can be used to increase the lifespan of living animals. I’m ready, try it on me, let’s go! Sorry, moving on.
It is clear that the authors’ biotechnology company, Rejuvenate Bio, wants to pursue this potentially groundbreaking approach in human beings. But as we mentioned in the beginning, they aren’t the only company working in this space. Learn more about Altos Labs and their all-star team of scientists in this Lifespan News episode from Ryan O’Shea.
Only clinical trials will be able to determine if lifespan-related, frailty, and epigenetic metrics can truly be improved in people. And when those clinical trials occur, we’ll let you know the results and whether or not I get accepted! So make sure to subscribe and click the bell so you don’t miss out. I’m Emmett Short. and we’ll see you next time on Lifespan News!
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