Scientists have long been pursuing methods to slow down the ageing process and allow for an extension of life. The recent research conducted at a prestigious University in the USA determined that the brain majorly affects how quickly we age.
The study conducted by Dongsheng Cai and his team at the Albert Einstein University in New York, shows that the Stem Cells found in the hypothalamus of the brain play a prominent role in the ageing process.
Slowing Down the Ageing Process
First they proved that the amount of Neural Stem Cells in the brain of mice, mainly in the hypothalamus, decreased with age. With this information at their disposal, they sought to discover whether the decrease in stem cells was a cause of ageing or just a result of the process. The research team introduced a toxin which destroyed 70% of Stem Cells, and the result was remarkable. The mice aged more rapidly than usual. In addition, their performance in a multitude of tests involving endurance, coordination, social behavior and cognitive ability significantly decreased, when compared to the performance of the control group.
The scientists then injected fresh Neutral Stem Cells into aged mice to see the reaction. The result was that the aged mice lived 15% longer than normal mice and they also performed better in ageing-related tests. If these results were replicated in humans, it would allow for a person with a life expectancy of 80 years old to live for an additional 12 years.
Mr. Dongsheng Cai has acknowledged that humans are more complex than mice but said, ‘However, if the mechanism is fundamental, you might expect to see effects when an intervention is based on it’
After successfully highlighting the importance of Neural Stem Cells when considering ageing and life expectancy, the scientists then looked further into the role of the stem cells. They found that molecules known as micronRNAs or miRNAs, which are produced in the hypothalamus and released from Neural Stem Cells, were the causes of the majority of the effects of ageing. As said by Dongsheng Cai “ the mechanism is partially due to these cells secreting certain miRNAs which help maintain youth , and their lost lead to ageing.”
Even though these methodologies have not yet been implemented on Human species, the scientists believe that the next step should be to create human Neural Stem Cells in the laboratory for launching with the human trials.
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H/T: The Guardian