A miracle molecule that regenerates neurons and restores memory lost with age

Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have discovered a treatment that can regenerate neurons, reduce inflammation, improve memory and muscle function, and reverse other adverse effects of aging. If it works in humans as well as in preclinical trials, this discovery could reverse the effects of aging and age-related diseases.

Telomeres These are the “caps” at the ends of our chromosomes that are responsible for protecting the cells’ DNA information. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres of the chromosomes wear down until this protection is gone, and DNA damage causes the cells to stop reproducing, become inactive, and become inactive. become aging, zombie cells that cause inflammation and cause age-related diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.


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Regenerates telomeres

Repairing telomeres is one way scientists hope to mitigate the effects of aging and make people not only live longer, but also in the best medical conditions.

Researchers from the University of Texas looked for compounds that react with telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), an enzyme that helps synthesize and lengthen telomeres. After the treatment, TERT levels improved significantly in animal tests, with the mice improving in memory, strength, coordination, speed, grip strength and other aspects that typically decline with age.


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“Epigenetic repression of TERT plays a fundamental role in the cellular decline observed early in aging, as it regulates genes involved in learning, memory, muscle function and inflammation,” he says. Ronald DePinho researcher at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and lead author of a study recently published in the journal cell. “By pharmacologically restoring TERT levels in early life, we reprogrammed the expression of these genes, leading to improved cognitive function and muscle performance, while reversing features associated with many age-related diseases.”

How it works

DePinho’s lab has observed in the past that deactivation of the TERT gene causes premature aging, which is reversed by its reactivation. Additionally, some cells, such as neurons and heart cells, rejuvenate without the cell division required for telomere synthesis, suggesting that TERT has functions beyond telomere synthesis. and that telomerase levels are important for aging.

Based on this, the team began developing a drug that could restore TERT levels. The researchers analyzed more than 650,000 compounds to find a molecule that could reactivate TERT in old mice equivalent to 75 human years of age. They found molecule called TAC which they administered to rodents for six months. After this time, they observed the growth of neurons in the memory centers of the animals’ brains (the hippocampus) and how this helped the mice improve their performance on cognitive tests and increase the number of genes involved in memory and learning.

In addition, the researchers discovered that the molecule can reverse sarcopenia in mice, that is, the weakening of muscle mass, strength and coordination as the body ages. They also noticed that administering TAC also reduced a process called inflammation, the accumulation of inflammatory markers responsible for a variety of age-related diseases.

We now need to replicate these results in upcoming human clinical trials to see if this molecule is as magical as it seems. “These preclinical results are encouraging because TAS is easily absorbed into all tissues, including the central nervous system. However, more research is needed to adequately evaluate its safety and activity in long-term treatment strategies,” says DePinho. “However, our greater understanding of the molecular mechanisms that drive the aging process has identified viable drug targets, allowing us to explore opportunities to intercept the causes of several major age-related chronic diseases.”

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