Cellular reprogramming to counter aging

Do you know the axolotl? This aquatic salamander is able to regenerate several parts of its body such as its jaw, legs, tail, etc

Cellular reprogramming to counter aging

Do you know the axolotl? This aquatic salamander is able to regenerate several parts of its body such as its jaw, legs, tail, etc. If Man is not (yet) at such a level of self-repair, scientists have been working on it for many years. Whether it is to fight a disease, repair the consequences of an accident or face the misdeeds of passing time, researchers are trying to regenerate organs and repair them. In 2012, the Japanese Shinya Yamanaka received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his discoveries relating to the reprogramming of adult cells into pluripotent cells.

Inspired by this work, Professor Jean-Marc Lemaitre – Inserm research director, co-director of the Montpellier Institute of Regenerative Medicine and Biotherapies and author of Guérir la vieillesse (HumenSciences) – is trying with his team to push back the limits of living and to prolong healthy life, and he will be at MedInTechs to talk about it. For the first time in the world, Professor Lemaitre has proven that aging is reversible. Meeting with the doctor who wants to treat old age.

The Point: Why is it important to know how to regenerate organs?

Prof. Jean-Marc Lemaitre: Over time, the human body loses its ability to repair itself. During embryonic development, the tissues are able to regenerate, but then, in adulthood, this ability decreases. It is the stem cells, present in the majority of tissues, which provide this repair function. Indeed, stem cells are able to self-renew, multiply and differentiate to regenerate tissue. They are said to be pluripotent when they manage to multiply and differentiate in all types of cells, as is the case in the embryo. But, over the years, the stem cells present in our tissues as adults lose their capacity and decrease in number. A wasting of the tissues is then observed and the consequence is the appearance of a number of diseases of aging, such as osteoporosis, sarcopenia (muscle loss), etc.

In 2011, you and your team succeeded in rejuvenating skin cells. How did you get such results?

What were the results of this reprogramming?

The rest of our research was to apply this reprogramming to an entire organism, our laboratory mouse. By reprogramming all the cells of the mouse, we were able to increase the longevity of animals up to 30% in good health... We were even able to observe that if this cell reprogramming was carried out early in the life of the mouse and only one times, all of the tissues improved and the rodents did not suffer from osteoarthritis or fibrosis. More generally, the mice gained 15% healthy life expectancy. Even more interesting, a single cell reprogramming helps maintain muscle mass, maintain physical strength and limit fat gain.

Other research conducted in parallel indicates that similar results can be achieved by targeting senescent cells with small molecules that specifically destroy them. Reprogramming aging cells or destroying senescent cells allows you to gain up to 30% of healthy life each time, having removed the pathologies of aging.

This suggests that we must treat the aging of our cells and consider that old age could be a disease, the mother of diseases, which must be treated and that age-related pathologies are only the consequences. This is an essential step, as it could help slow aging and prevent the onset of diseases of old age.

For the future, you want to go even further. What are your projects ?

One of the most promising ways to repair organs and give them a second life is to use the potential of stem cells. Medical research is always a race ahead. We want to go even further and apply it to humans. First, in order to show that our technique is effective and safe, we will reprogram human skin to rejuvenate it. The choice fell on human skin, because it is the most accessible tissue. It is easier to take the samples and see the effect of the treatments. This is a necessary step before going any further.

To regenerate tissues, we explore, grope, using all the resources and knowledge of biology, using existing mechanisms, sometimes diverting them to restore a defect or reactivate a mechanism present in the embryo, but which no longer works in the embryo. 'adult. Thanks to our work, we have proven that it is possible to divert the mechanism of aging. It's pretty fabulous, isn't it...?

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