Stem Cells from Supercentenarian Cells
For the first-ever time, cells from a 114-year-old woman have been reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by the scientists at AgeX Therapeutics, a biotechnology company, and Sanford Burnham Prebys Institute. Studies that research on why supercentenarians live for so long and have healthy lives will be benefitted by this new research study.
Who are Supercentenarians?
The term supercentenarians refers to the people who live for more than 110 years. Supercentenarians are remarkable because of their incredible health and not just because of their age. The diseases which can still affect even centenarians like cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s, does not seem to affect the supercentenarians as this elite group appears resistant to such diseases. However, the reason why some people become supercentenarians and some don’t is still unknown.
The study author at Sanford Burnham Prebys, the Center for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine’s director and a professor, Evan Y. Snyder, M.D., Ph.D. said, “We set forth in answering the big question: Can cells this old be reprogrammed? We have now shown that this can be done and finding the genes and other factors that slow down the aging process can be done by using this valuable new tool.
The blood cells from three different people—the 114-year-old woman, an 8-year-old child with progeria( a condition that causes rapid aging), and from a healthy 43-year-old woman, were reprogrammed into iPSCs by the scientists in this study. The type of cell that helps in maintaining and repairing the body’s structural tissues including fat, cartilage and bone are called mesenchymal stem cells. Then, the transformation of these reprogrammed cells into mesenchymal cells was carried out by the scientists.
It was found that just as easy as the cells from the healthy and progeria samples, supercentenarian cells also easily transformed. The telomeres—protective DNA caps that shrink as we age were expected to be reset, and it turned out to be as expected. Remarkably, just like going from age 114 to age zero, the telomeres of the supercentenarian iPSCs also were reset to youthful levels of telomeres. When compared to the other samples, the telomere resetting in supercentenarian iPSCs occurred less frequently which indicates that there might have been some lasting effects due to extreme aging, which needs to be overcome for resetting cellular aging efficiently.
Studies can now begin to determine the “secret sauce” of supercentenarians as the scientists have overcome a key technological hurdle in this study. For instance, when the muscle cells derived from the progeria iPSCs, healthy iPSCs, and supercentenarian iPSCs are compared, the molecular processes or the genes that are unique to supercentenarian iPSCs could be revealed. Then, drugs could be developed that can either emulate the patterns or thwart the unique processes seen in the cells of supercentenarians.
Snyder says, “We are now on board to answer the question in a way no one has ever been able to, the question of Why supercentenarians age so slowly?”
The Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications journal published this study.
Stem Cells from Supercentenarian Cells – Source