Chinese scientists develop gene therapy that can delay aging

Beijing – Scientists in Beijing have developed a new gene therapy that can reverse some of the effects of aging in mice and extend their lifespan, findings that may one day contribute to similar treatments for humans.

The method, detailed earlier this month in a paper in the Journal of Science Translational Medicine, involves inactivating a gene called Cat7 that scientists found to be an important contributor to cellular aging.

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The specific therapy he used and the results were a world first, said 40-year-old Professor Qu Jing, co-supervisor of the project, a specialist in aging and regenerative medicine from the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

“These mice show after 6-8 months that improvement and robustness are seen overall and most importantly they have increased lifespan by about 25%,” Qu said.

Teams of biologists from various Cas departments used the CRISPR / Cas9 method to screen thousands of genes that were particularly strong drivers of cellular senescence, a term used to describe cellular aging.

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About 100 of the 10,000 genes were identified, and KT7 was the most efficient at contributing to senescence in cells, Qu said.

Cat7 is one of thousands of genes found in mammalian cells. Researchers inactivated it in rivers of mice using a method called a lentiviral vector.

“We tested the function of genes in different cell types, in human stem cells, mesenchymal progenitor cells, human liver cells and mouse liver cells, and for all these cells we did not see any detectable. Cellular toxicity. And mice. As of now, we have not seen any side effects yet. “

Despite this, the method is a long way from being prepared for human trials, Qu said.

“It is still of course necessary to test the function of kat7 in other organs of other cell types and mice and other pre-clinical animals before using the strategy for human cell or other health conditions.” . “

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Qu said that she hopes to be able to test the method on the next primate, but that will require much more money and a lot more research first.

“Finally, we hope that we can find a way to delay aging by a very modest percentage … even in the future.”

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