The fountain of youth may reside in an embryonic stem cell gene named Nanog.
In a series of experiments at the University at Buffalo, the gene kicked into action dormant cellular processes that are key to preventing weak bones, clogged arteries and other telltale signs of growing old.
The findings, published June 29 in the journal Stem Cells, also show promise in counteracting premature aging disorders such as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.
“Our research into Nanog is helping us to better understand the process of aging and ultimately how to reverse it,” says Stelios T. Andreadis, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the study’s lead author.
Additional authors come from UB’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint program between UB’s engineering school and the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, and the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo.
To battle aging, the human body holds a reservoir of nonspecialized cells that can regenerate organs. These cells are called adult stem cells, and they are located in every tissue of the body and respond rapidly when there is a need.
But as people age, fewer adult stem cells perform their job well, a scenario which leads to age-related disorders. Reversing the effects of aging on adult stem cells, essentially rebooting them, can help overcome this problem.