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The fountain of youth may be within reach

A new study that experimented on older mice was able to slow down aging

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Scientist Jessica Grimsby tends to an experiment.

Scientist Jessica Grimsby tends to an experiment on the effect of drugs on cell growth. A recent study managed to reverse aging in mice.

Josh Reynolds, Associated Press

Age is just a number, but it would be nice if there was a way to reverse brittle bones, weaker muscles or wrinkles.

The latest: The fountain of youth may not be that out of reach as scientists at the Salk Institute, in collaboration with Genentech, have been able to successfully reverse aging in middle-aged and elderly mice.

What they’re saying: “We are elated that we can use this approach across the life span to slow down aging in normal animals. The technique is both safe and effective in mice,” said Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, co-corresponding author and a professor in Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory.

This would provide “a new tool to restore tissue and organismal health by improving cell function and resilience in different disease situations, such as neurodegenerative diseases,” he said.

Details: These scientists built on the work of Japanese Nobel laureate Prof Shinya Yamanaka, who experimented with a mixture of four molecules that can rewind the aging in adult cells.

Mice, 12 to 22 months old, or 35 to 70 in human years, were treated. The therapy was most effective when given for a long period of time — seven to 10 months.

Yes, but: Researchers are cautioned about using Yamanaka’s four-molecule method in humans because those cells can turn into clumps of cancerous tissue, per The Guardian.

“Will this ever find application in humans?” said Dr. Tamir Chandra, an expert in the biology of aging at the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved in the study.

“In theory, biological age reversal or reduction could be possible. However, we are at very early stages where we need to understand the basic science behind it much better.”