The Journal, BMC Cell Biology recently published a study that showed how you can rejuvenate old human cells by using chemicals that mimic resveratrol. That chemical can be found in dark chocolate and red wine.
The studies were carried out at the Universities of Exeter in Brighton, located in the United Kingdom.
The lead researcher, Lorna Harries is a professor of molecular genetics at the University of Exeter. Dr. Eva Latorre is a research associate at the same institution and she is the first author of the paper.
Research that was conducted previously at the University of Exeter also found a certain type of proteins, known as splicing factors deactivate as we age.
Resveralogues and other chemicals that are similar to resveratrol were used in the study. The splicing factors were reactivated and it made older cells appear younger. In addition, they started acting like young cells by dividing again.
“When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn’t believe it,” says Dr. Latorre. “These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic,” she says.
“I repeated the experiments several times and in each case, the cells rejuvenated. I am very excited by the implications and potential for this research,” Dr. Latorre adds.
Resveratrol is a compound you can find in grapes, peanuts, dark chocolate, red wine, and certain berries.
What are mRNA splicing factors?
Prof. Harries helps to simplify matters by publishing in Medical News Today. It was to discuss how mRNA splicing really works.
“The information in our genes is carried [in] our DNA,” she said. “Every cell in the body carries the same genes, but not every gene is switched on in every cell. That’s one of the things that makes a kidney cell a kidney cell and heart cell a heart cell.”
“When a gene is needed,” she continued, “it is switched on and [makes] an initial message called an RNA, that contains the instructions for whatever the gene makes. The interesting thing is that most genes can make more than one message.”
“The initial message is made up of building blocks that can be kept in or left out to make different messages,” Prof. Harries added. “[This] inclusion or removal of the building blocks is done by a process called mRNA splicing, whereby the different blocks are joined together as necessary.”
“It’s a bit like a recipe book, where you can make either a vanilla sponge or a chocolate cake, depending on whether or not you add chocolate!” she said.
“We have previously found that the proteins that make the decision as to whether a block is left in our taken out (these are called splicing factors) are the ones that change most as we age.”
Seniors can live a healthier and longer life.
“[The findings demonstrate] that when you treat old cells with molecules that restore the levels of the splicing factors, the cells regain some features of youth,” explains Prof. Harries.
“They are able to grow, and their telomeres — the caps on the ends of the chromosomes that shorten as we age — are now longer, as they are in young cells.”
“[We] were quite surprised by the magnitude of [the findings],” Prof. Harries told MNT. She also said that the rejuvenating effects lasted for weeks, which was also very exciting.
This is a significant discovery that can improve how long seniors live. “This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life,” explains Prof. Harries.
Prof. Richard Faragher is a co-author of the study and a professor at the University of Brighton. He had the following to say:
“At a time when our capacity to translate new knowledge about the mechanisms of aging into medicines and lifestyle advice is limited only by a chronic shortage of funds, older people are ill-served by self-indulgent science fiction. They need practical action to restore their health and they need it yesterday.”
Prof. Harries also talked about the future plans for investigation by those researchers. He said: “We are now trying to see if we can find out how the changes in splicing factor levels [cause] cell rescue. We have more papers in preparation on this so watch this space!”