BOSTON (CBS) — Scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute say they have been able to partially reverse age-related degeneration in mice.

The milestone is linked to the erosion of something called telomeres, which are located at the tip of a chromosome, almost like a cap.

Scientists say the deterioration this cap may contribute to the degeneration and functional decline in the elderly.

telomerase Have Dana Farber Scientists Reversed The Aging Process In Mice?


Replacing the telomerase in the mice allowed scientists to reverse many signs of aging, such as brain disease and infertility. “We wanted to know: If you could flip the telomerase switch on and restore telomeres in animals with entrenched age-related disease, what would happen?” explained Ronald DePinho, MD, the senior author of the report and the director of Dana-Farber’s Belfer Institute of Applied Cancer Science. “Would it slow down aging, stabilize it, or even reverse it?”

This procedure has not been tested on humans, but scientists hope to do so in the future. “Replacing the telomerase in humans might one day be able to treat conditions such as rare genetic premature aging syndromes in which shortened telomeres play an important role,” said DePinho.

“Whether this would impact on normal aging is a more difficult question,” he added, “But it is notable that telomere loss is associated with age-associated disorders and thus restoration of telomeres could alleviate such decline.”

Despite the discovery, scientists are still concerned that the process could fuel hidden cancers or cause new ones to develop.

Researchers are now trying to figure out how to minimize this risk.

Comments (6)
  1. Paul R says:

    Fascinating story, but fail to read where it has something to do with Cancer research! Is this where my money is going when I donate for a cure for cancer?

  2. Cynic says:

    Capital Punishment is bad enough but could you imagine being condemned to LIVE FOREVER?

  3. Cynic says:

    Just what we need…200 Year Old Mice.

  4. Ellen says:

    Who would want to stay here for 200 years? Me I want to be with God, not here down on earth.

  5. Markymark says:

    To the Intelligentsia around here:

    In essence, the study found mice lived about the same number of years; however, their quality of life was much better without the aging related degeneration that was reversed.

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