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Living organ regeneration 'first' by gene manipulation

RATE THIS! +28
Posted in Science on 9th Apr, 2014 04:18 AM by AlexMuller

An elderly organ in a living animal has been regenerated into a youthful state for the first time, UK researchers say. The thymus, which is critical for immune function, becomes smaller and less effective with age, making people more susceptible to infection. A team at the University of Edinburgh managed to rejuvenate the organ in mice by manipulating DNA.

 
Experts said the study was likely to have "broad implications" for regenerative medicine. The thymus, which sits near the heart, produces T-cells to fight off infection. However, by the age of 70 the thymus is just a tenth of the size in adolescents.
 
"This has a lot of impacts later in life, when the functionality of the immune system decreases with age and you become more vulnerable to infection and less responsive to vaccines," one of the researchers, Dr Nick Bredenkamp, told the BBC.
 
The team at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh tried to regenerate the thymus of old mice. A gene, called Foxn1, naturally gets shut down as the thymus ages. So they tried to boost it back to youthful levels.
 
A drug was used to increase the activity of the gene in elderly mice. The results, published in the journal Development, showed that boosting Foxn1 activity in elderly mice could give them the thymus of a much younger animal.

Tags: genegeneticsregenerative medicinethymusaging

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-04-09
+2
Great step for regenerative medicine. More and more progress is reported every day and applications should follow
2 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-04-09
+3
In this case application is not immediate. The technique could eventually be adapted to work in people, but it would need to be "very tightly controlled" to ensure the immune system did not then go into overdrive and attack the body. Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-04-09
+2
It is amazing that the effect on Thymus was achieved using just a single gene. This raises the prospect that other organs in the body, such as the brain or heart, could be made more youthful by targeting a single gene. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-04-09
+3
Another recent study also identified some genes that could be involved in ageing in general- these are genes involved in the communication between the nucleus and the mitochondria that depends on a cascade of events involving HIF-1α and SIRT1.
5 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-04-09
+1
People think anti-ageing research is about finding ways to make people live until they are 200, but the goal is really to help people be healthy longer into old age. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-04-09
+1
Yes, the aim is to develop an anti-ageing therapy that could have a dramatic impact on public health by reducing the burden of age-related health problems, such as dementia, stroke and heart disease, and prolonging the quality of life for an increasingly aged population Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-04-09
+0
Whether this discovery and potential treatment means we’ll all live to 150, is not so important, but the important part is that we don’t spend the last 20 to 30 years of our lives in bad health. Reply
Reply


 

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