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Can scientists reverse ageing?

Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York believe that they may have found a revolutionary new way to treat age-related illnesses.

The research focuses on the role of the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates a number of bodily functions including growth, development, reproduction and metabolism.

After conducting a series of tests on mice, researchers found that the hypothalamus plays a role in the ageing process.

“Our research shows that the number of hypothalamic neural stem cells naturally declines over the life of the animal, and this decline accelerates ageing,” says senior author Dongsheng Cai, MD, PHD, professor of molecular pharmacology at Einstein. “But we also found that the effects of this loss are not irreversible. By replenishing these stem cells or the molecules they produce, it’s possible to slow and even reverse various aspects of ageing throughout the body.”

Scientists tested this theory by replenishing supplies of stem cells in mice that had begun to show signs of ageing, as well as mice whose hypothalamic cells had been destroyed.

They found that the effects of ageing slowed and, in some cases, reversed.

The hypothalamic stem cells exert their anti-ageing effects by releasing molecules called microRNAs to regulate gene expression.

While scientists have not yet tested the effects of microRNA’s on humans, a representative from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine said that the research is a “first step toward possibly slowing the ageing process and treating age- related diseases.”