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More Evidence That Youthful Blood Can Reverse The Effects Of Aging

George Dvorsky

A few years ago, scientists from Stanford discovered that it’s possible to reverse cognitive decline in old mice by injecting them with the blood of the young. Now, researchers have isolated the mechanism responsible for this rejuvenation — and it’s a protein that’s found in humans as well.

Back in 2012, when Stanford University scientist Saul Villeda showed that young blood has rejuvenating qualities, he wasn’t entirely sure how it reversed the effects of cognitive decline — but he suspected that it has something to do with the limited production of stem cells as we get older.

And now, two new studies suggest he was on the right track.

Recharging Body and Brain

The independent research papers, one from Harvard and one from Stanford, are reporting that injections of a protein, or growth factor, known as GDF11 is capable of rejuvenating a number of seemingly unrelated physiological aspects.

More Evidence That Youthful Blood Can Reverse The Effects Of Aging

Above: Reconstructions of blood vessels in an old mouse’s brain (left) and in an old mouse that received young mouse blood. Lida Katsimpardi.

The Harvard study, which now appears in Science, used the protein to improve the exercise capability and skeletal muscle function of mice (tests showed improvements in recovery from muscle injury, along with improved performance on running and grip strength tasks). The Stanford researchers showed that the transfusions encouraged the growth of new blood vessels and improved the function of the olfactory region of the brains of older mice, allowing them to detect smells just as well as younger mice. The injected mice were also shown to perform better on memory tests than mice of the same age that hadn’t received the youthful blood plasma.

Previously, GDF11 was shown to make the failing hearts in aging mice appear more like those of young healthy mice.

As noted, humans have this protein, too. According to Amy Wagers and Lee Rubin of Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB), barring unexpected developments, they expect to have GDF11 in human clinical trials within three to five years. The goal is to develop interventions that treat neurodegnerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

In a prepared statement, HSCRB co-chair Doug Melton said that he couldn’t

recall a more exciting finding to come from stem cell science and clever experiments. This should give us all hope for a healthier future. We all wonder why we were stronger and mentally more agile when young, and these two unusually exciting papers actually point to a possible answer: the higher levels of the protein GDF11 we have when young. There seems to be little question that, at least in animals, GDF11 has an amazing capacity to restore aging muscle and brain function.

It’s definitely an amazing discovery — and the first example of a rejuvenation factor that’s naturally produced by our own bodies, one that’s capable of reversing (or slowing) aging in multiple tissues.

Restoring Stem Cell Function

Both research teams examined the effect of GDF11 in two ways. First, they created a parabiotic system in which two mice were surgically joined, so that the blood of the younger mouse could circulate through the older mouse. The second method involved direct injections of the protein into the older mice. Subsequent tests, along with comparisons to control groups, revealed the therapeutic effects of the procedure.

Previous studies have shown that GDF11 works by regulating and restoring stem cell activity. This protein is abundant in young organisms, but drops off as animals age. After the experiments, 3D reconstructions of the brain and fMRI scans showed more new blood vessels and more blood flow, both of which are normally associated with younger, healthier brain tissue.

The researchers speculate that GDF11 improves vascularity and blood flow, which is associated with increased brain re-growth.

“However, the increased blood flow should have more widespread effects on brain function,” noted Rubin. “We do think that, at least in principle, there will be a way to reverse some of the cognitive decline that takes place during aging, perhaps even with a single protein. It could be that a molecule like GDF11, or GDF11 itself, could [reverse the damage of aging].”

Rubin says that a potential drug is not “out of the question.”

Treating Humans

To date, the only other interventions known to reverse or slow aging have been caloric restrictionrapamycin, and the administration of nicotinamide mono nucleotide (NMN). But one of the primary advantages of GDF11 is that it’s found naturally in the blood.

Writing in ScienceNews, Jocelyn Kaiser discusses the potential for human applications:

Harvard has filed for patents on GDF11, and Wagers says she and her colleagues are “in the process of talking with people” about commercializing it to treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Giving GDF11 itself “would require huge amounts of protein,” Wagers says, so it may be better to use a modified form or to target the GDF11 pathway with a different molecule. “These are tractable problems,” Wagers says. “The most important hurdle was figuring out a pathway to go after.”

Temple agrees that GDF11 has therapeutic promise, but she says she will remain cautious until more is known about GDF11’s mechanism. She also notes that some of the “old” mice in the Harvard brain studies were only middle-aged, and whether the effects would hold up in elderly people is unclear. “It’s a matter of where you can step in,” she says. Nor have any studies yet shown that the treated mice live longer.

 

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Science & Technology

20 scientific predictions for the next 10 years

We are lucky to be born and live in an incredible time of development of science and technology. We know the approximate rate of development of both, but we have no idea what this rate will be by the end of our life. Things that have long been considered science fiction are becoming components of our lives every day. In the next ten years, the world may present us with gifts that cannot be refused.

The amazing thing about all these scientific discoveries is that they give rise to technologies that further accelerate technological progress. Our ability to innovate grows exponentially as the years go by. 

To give you an idea of ​​the significance of this progression, here are 20 scientific predictions that should occur by 2030.

1. Artificial intelligence (AI) will pass the Turing test, or in other words, the machine will prove that it can think independently.

2. Hyperloop (Elon Musk’s vacuum train project) will start passenger transportation.

3. Biosensors will go on sale, which will call an ambulance if the wearer suddenly becomes ill. In addition, they will remind you to take certain medications, assessing the current state of the body.

4. The level of air pollution will rise, but scientists will come closer to an effective solution to this global problem.

5. Self-driving car will remain a luxury.

6. The world average cost of solar panels will drop sharply, the transition to solar energy will be very rapid.

7. People will return to the moon and begin its consistent colonization.

8. Robots-killers (drones with weapons) will appear. Crime will reach a fundamentally new level. Investigations will come to a standstill.

9. In developed countries, life expectancy will rise sharply. Cancer will cease to be a fatal problem.

10. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will be launched, which will help discover hundreds of new earth-like planets and partially learn the chemical composition of their atmospheres.

11. Rapid development of the multi-billion dollar space tourism industry.

12. In the public domain there will be “sources” for printing clothes on a 3D printer. Tens of millions of workers from poor countries will be left without even this low-paying job.

13. If breast cancer is detected on time, the chance of cure will be 100%.

14. The United States will actively grow organs from stem cells from patients themselves. The donation will in fact be liquidated.

15. We will not find extraterrestrial life on Mars. We will probably find it on the moons of Jupiter or Saturn.

16. SpaceX regularly brings people into lunar orbit in preparation for a manned mission to Mars.

17. Global warming will release the oldest viruses. The Chinese coronavirus will seem like a childish joke.

18. The Internet will completely replace television and print media.

19. Tesla cars will become the world’s best-selling cars.

20. Mass DNA editing experiments will begin. Thanks to this, children will be born with “built-in” protection against a huge number of diseases.

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Science & Technology

Designer has created a concept for the electric bike of the future

Futuristic motorcycles have become part of popular culture, associated with the concepts of the near future. They appeared in the film ” Tron: Legacy”, the anime “Akira” and in many video games from the “cyberpunk” genre. Recently, Russian designer Roman Dolzhenko presented his version of the bike of the future.

Russian designer has created a concept for the electric bike of the futureromorwise.com

MIMIC eBike – the concept of an electric superbike – originally existed as a sketch on a paper napkin. Later, the designer made the idea more realistic by rendering in 3DS max.

Minimalism prevails in motorcycle design. It lacks straight lines and protrusions. The dashboard of the bike is completely digital, and consists of a solid display showing basic information (speed and battery charge status).

Superbike MIMICromorwise.com

There are very few details about the superbike. Social network users are most often concerned about the question: how to turn the steering wheel with this design? The front wheel fairing and handlebar structure appear to be inactive. In an interview for InceptiveMind, Dolzhenko answered this question: the front of the motorcycle turns completely, but at a slight angle.

Superbike MIMICromorwise.com

There is no information on the cost of transport, capacity and production, which is not surprising. MIMIC eBike is just an extremely realistic concept art of the motorcycle of the future. Perhaps in a couple of years, some Elon Musk will adapt the MIMIC design for a real electric superbike.

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Genes work differently in men and women

All of our cells have the same genes. They can have mutations, however, both in the muscle cell and in the neuron there is a gene for the globin protein, an insulin gene, an acetylcholinesterase gene, etc. But is it worth reminding that a muscle cell is not like a nerve cell? The point is that genes work differently in different cells.

… although these differences should not be exaggerated – even the end sections of chromosomes, which determine biological age, look the same in men and women.

More than ten years ago, a large international team of researchers launched the GTEx (Genotype-Tissue Expression) project, the goal of which was to determine the activity of all genes in all human tissues and organs. Samples of 49 tissues were taken from 838 donors – dead healthy people, mostly elderly. First of all, the DNA was read from each of the donors. Second, the amount of different RNA was analyzed in each tissue. As you know, genetic information from genes in DNA is first read into the messenger RNA (mRNA) molecule, and then proteins are already synthesized on the mRNA molecule (for simplicity, we are not talking about a large class of RNAs that do not encode proteins and which themselves perform various important functions in the cell). The more active a gene is, the more mRNA is read from it. Therefore, by the level of different mRNAs, one can understand where which genes are more active,

The activity of a gene depends on special regulatory sequences, which are also recorded in the DNA – that is, some sections of DNA affect others. By comparing the genetic text in DNA with the amount of different RNAs in different people, one can understand which regulatory regions in DNA affect a particular gene. Such regions (or loci) in DNA are called eQTL, expression quantitative trait loci, which can be roughly translated as loci that determine the level of activity.

As a result of the work, a whole bundle of fifteen articles was recently published in Science , Science Advances , Cell and other journals. Now, using the map of tissue genetic activity for each gene, you can check how it should work in a particular organ or part of it (because several samples were taken from each organ). On the other hand, by looking for a regulatory region (eQTL) in a person’s genome, one can estimate how certain genes will work. It’s genes – because each regulatory eQTL affects more than two genes.

Another important result concerns telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that shorten with each cell division. Telomeres are often used to assess biological age: the shorter they are, the older the body is. But usually blood cells are taken to measure telomeres. What if different fabrics age differently?

The researchers estimated the length of the end sections of chromosomes in 23 tissues, and came to the conclusion that blood does indeed provide an indication of age in general: telomeres in blood cells shorten in proportion to telomeres in other tissues. At the same time, earlier studies were not confirmed, in which female telomeres were on average longer than male ones – that is, neither women nor men have telomere advantages. Which is curious in its own way, since it is believed that women generally live longer than men . This is probably because telomeres are a significant, but not the only indicator of age. In addition, it was not possible to see a strong shortening of telomeres in smokers (here it is worth noting that lung cancer can occur without telomere shortening).

By the way, about women and men. Gender differences are hard to ignore, and we all know that men and women have different sex chromosomes and that men and women have different hormones. Obviously, this should affect the work of genes. Indeed, researchers have found that 37% of our genes work differently in men and women in at least one tissue. Moreover, some genes, relatively speaking, “work” only in one sex. For example, men with different DPYSL4 gene variants will have different body fat percentages. But in women, the DPYSL4 gene does not affect body fat – this does not mean that the gene does not work, just the amount of adipose tissue depends on other genes. Similarly, in men with different variants of the CLDN7 genethere will be different birth weights. In women, birth weight is linked to another gene, HKDC1 .

Many genes, whose activity depends on sex, are associated with diseases, but their “sex” differences were still unknown. Obviously, this information is useful in personalized therapy, when the patient is being treated according to his individual genetic characteristics. However, the authors of the work note that although a lot of “sex-dependent” genes were found, their activity itself does not change very much. In general, the gender genetic differences between men and women are not very large. We emphasize that this is precisely if we take it as a whole – because the genes on which, say, primary and secondary sexual characteristics depend, work in men and women in very different ways.

What else affects gene activity? For example, age – but here there is a gap in the received data. Above we said that the samples were taken mostly from people in years; in addition, more material is needed to analyze age differences across the entire genome. (By the way, it is possible that sex differences are manifested in different ways at different ages.) Some experts, according to The Scientist portal , generally strongly doubt the reliability of the results, because samples were taken from the dead, and not from living people. On the other hand, where can we find healthy volunteers who would allow them to take a piece of tissue from the bowels of their own brain? Subsequent studies are likely to greatly adjust this map of tissue gene activity, but, one way or another, the new data will have something to compare with.

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