Cloning reverses aging in cow cells, a milestone in medical research

Vincent J. Cristofalo, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, and his colleague Mary Kay Francis, Ph.D., were among the investigators involved in an important cloning study that will be released later this week in the journal Science. In this report, the researchers described how they used a new cloning technique to rewind the aging clock in cells. The clock is considered to be the strand of DNA at the end of each chromosome (called telomeres), and is shortened every time a cell divides. When the aging clock runs out, the cells stop dividing.

Medical science has long sought to discover a "Fountain of Youth" that could potentially turn back the aging clock to return old cells to their earliest stages of development. If accomplished, this will have tremendous implications for regenerating cells and tissues in order to repair age-related damage. However, the results of previous research that resulted in Dolly the cloned sheep (created by a different cloning method) reported that she was actually aging faster and that her aging clock had not been reset.

The report in Science describes the cloning of six calves from old (senescent) cells at the end of their aging clock (lifespan). Cells taken from these animals not only show a return to a more youthful state, but they actually exhibited a longer lifespan. Cristofalo and Francis used multiple criteria from their expertise in studying changes that occur in the cellular aging process to confirm the age of the donor cells that Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (ACT) used for its nuclear transfer experiments. ACT produced six healthy cloned calves from these donor senescent cells.

"The significance of this finding is that you can, in essence, reset the aging clock in animal cloning, a development which overturns a previous obstacle to effective cloning. The study establishes a basis for far more kinds of cloning experiments that could have significant implications in medicine and

Contact: Laura Feragen
Thomas Jefferson University

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