28 MAY 2015
Image: Fibroblasts (skin cells) labeled with fluorescent dyes. Mitochondrias are in red, memrane is in blue.
They made a 97-year-old cell line behave as good as new.
By altering the behaviour of two genes responsible for the production of simple amino acids in human cells, scientists have gained a better understanding of how the process of ageing works, and how we could delay or perhaps even reverse it.
The team, led by Jun-Ichi Hayashi at the University of Tsukuba, targeted two genes that produce the amino acid glycine in the cell’s mitochondria, and figured out how to switch them on and off. By doing this, they could either accelerate the process of ageing within the cell, which caused signifiant defects to arise, or they could reverse the process of ageing, which restored the capacity for cellular respiration. Using this technique to produce more glycine in a 97-year-old cell line for 10 days, the researchers restored cellular respiration, effectively reversing the cell line’s age.