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Stem Cells

Turning back the Clock on Aging Stem Cells

Posted on 30 March 2020

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In a recent study, a Stanford research team successfully delivered epigenetic reprogramming , or Yamanaka, factors to human tissue cells. Driving back their epigenetic status into a more youthful state.

Importantly, the team found that if dosed for a short enough time, the cells retained their identity but returned to a younger state, as judged by several measures of cell vigor, including:

  • More youthful & healthier expression
  • Increase in differential potential
  • Improved tissue regenerative capabilities
  • Restoration of muscle function

Dr. Sebastiano, one of the lead investigators, said the Yamanaka factors appeared to operate in two stages:

  1. Raising the epigenetic energy to one level, at which the marks of aging were lost
  2. To a higher level at which cell identity was erased

The Stanford team extracted aged cartilage cells from patients with osteoarthritis and found that after a low dosage of Yamanaka factors the cells no longer secreted the inflammatory factors that provoke the disease. The team also found that human muscle stem cells, which are impaired in a muscle-wasting disease, could be restored to youth.

Members of the Stanford team have formed a company, Turn Biotechnologies, to develop therapies for osteoarthritis and other diseases. The study is

definitively a step forward in the goal of reversing cellular aging

Dr. Izpisua Belmonte

The results are novel and represent a significant step toward the goal of reversing cellular aging, and have potential therapeutic implications for aging and aging-related diseases.

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    1. Sarkar, T.J., Quarta, M., Mukherjee, S. et al. Transient non-integrative expression of nuclear reprogramming factors promotes multifaceted amelioration of aging in human cells. Nat Commun 11, 1545 (2020).
    2. Takahashi, K., Yamanaka, S. Induction of Pluripotent Stem Cells from Mouse Embryonic and Adult Fibroblast Cultures by Defined Factors. DOI:
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