Can Stem Cells Slow Down Aging?

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Can Stem Cells Slow Down Aging?

A recent study at Albert Einstein College of Medicine indicates stem cell implants in the brain could actually slow down the aging process.

This study was based on another study that also took place at Albert Einstein College of Medicine where scientists found the number of neural stem cells in the hypothalamus naturally decline with age, and this decline accelerates aging. The hypothalamus actually regulates aging throughout our entire body. These neural cells slowly die off and are nearly absent by middle-age. Because of this finding, scientists now wanted to see if stem cells could transform into young neural cells to replace the dying cells to decelerate the aging process.

The first phase of the experiment was to introduce a toxin into the brains of mice to slightly speed the aging process. This toxin would eliminate the neural stem cells in the hypothalamus faster than normal. Over the next few months, tests showed the mice’s social behavior, coordination, endurance and mental ability were declining quicker than the controlled group of mice who did not receive the toxin. This means the mice were aging faster.

The second phase of the experiment involved implanting neural stem cells into the hypothalamus to take place of the dying cells. The scientists found that the mice who received the implant were healthier, mentally more fit, and had a 10-15% longer lifespan.

While this experiment has only been done on mice, this discovery is a huge breakthrough because the scientific community now has a deeper understanding of the aging process. Dongsheng Cai—the scientist who led the research—said, “of course humans are more complex; however, if the mechanism is fundamental, you might expect to see effects when an intervention is based on it.” Much more research and testing will need to be done before this type of procedure can be done on humans.

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