Rejuvenation of woman’s skin could tackle diseases of ageing

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Cambridge scientists have rejuvenated the skin cells of a 53-year-old woman to appear as the skin cells of a 23-year-old woman. They believe they can reproduce this effect with other human tissue.

BBC News interviewed Prof Wolf Reik, head of the Babraham Institute in Cambridge. He said that the technique might help people age in more healthy ways.

“We have been dreaming about this kind of thing. Many common diseases get worse with age and to think about helping people in this way is super exciting,” he said. Moreover, he emphasized that it is a first crucial step in the lab and much more progress would be necessary for an application to become available in a clinical setting.

The Roslin Institute near Edinburgh developed the Dolly technique in 2006 with Prof Shinya Yamanaka, then at Kyoto University. This method, called IPS, converted adult cells for about 50 days, recently it took less time. Consequently, these adult cells transformed into stem cells. Scientists are learning how to better apply both the Dolly and IPS techniques.

Prof Reik thinks that we can create medicines to rejuvenate skin in older people where they have been injured – as a method to accelerate healing. The researchers have shown in theory it is plausible because they rejuvenated skin cells faster in the lab than the usual natural progress of wound healing.

We continue to see more advances in regenerative medicine as treatments. Please watch this space as the innovations move forward.

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