Perhaps at the cellular level, for now. Researchers based in the UK recently discovered a way to switch on cell splicing factors – which start to shut off as we age – to make them look and act like young cells again. They applied reversatrol analogues to cells in culture to stimulate splicing factors and effectively rejuvenate inactive senescent cells. These chemicals are based on a substance naturally found in red wine, dark chocolate, red grapes and blueberries – all of which have long been associated with positive health benefits.
Data from the study, published in BMC Cell Biology, suggests that using chemicals to switch back on the major class of genes that are switched off as we age might provide a means to restore function to old cells. This discovery is another bold step towards resolving the longevity conundrum. Old is the new normal, and as the world population ages increasing attention is being paid to helping people live not only longer, but higher-quality lives. More and more people are recognizing the value of being able to get themselves up off the sofa, walk a mile in the woods, cook themselves a meal and pick up their grandchildren, and they are committing themselves to changing habits to enable more active lifestyles. But is that enough when your cells simply stop working like they used to?
This latest discovery signifies potential for development of therapies that would slow or even halt the degenerative effects of aging, as well as lower the risk for a constellation of chronic diseases that plague older people. Hope is on the horizon – meanwhile, let’s all raise a glass of red wine and keep eating blueberries!
This is the first demonstration that moderation of splicing factor levels is associated with reversal of cellular senescence in human primary fibroblasts. Small molecule modulators of such targets may therefore represent promising novel anti-degenerative therapies.