A group of researchers from the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute of the University of Cambridge declares, through a study published in Nature, to have reversed the aging process in brain stem cells of rats.
These are results that, according to the same press release concerning the new research, could have enormous implications for the human aging process and the therapies we put in place to combat it. The researchers analyzed, in particular, the oligodendrocyte progenitor (OPC) cells of rats, a type of brain stem cells whose function decreases with age, which also happens in humans.
The researchers were able to make the loss of function of these cells reversible in elderly rats by transplanting new ones, naturally of the same type, from the brains of younger rats.
To the surprise of the researchers themselves, after the transplantation of these brain cells, the old ones seemed to become younger, behaving like young transplanted cells that were naturally more vigorous.
At this point the researchers removed a protein (called Piezo1) on the surface of old brain stem cells, inducing the latter to perceive the softer and more spongy surrounding environment, which is more like the brain of a young mouse.
This led to the same effect as with the transplant: the older cells “rejuvenated” and returned to their normal regenerative function.