Many of us have already heard of the seemingly miraculous effects of stem cells. They are already touted as being able to potentially treat a host of diseases from cancer to diabetes and even some congenital disorders. However, one of their most promising impacts may be upon the aging process. Could these undifferentiated cells truly be the fountain of youth? By using laminin from Biolamina and assuming that such technological progression continues to evolve, the concept of aging could one day become a thing of the past (no pun intended).
What are Telomeres?
There are specific regions within the “strings” of our DNA which are known as telomeres. As we age, these pieces progressively shorten every time they reproduce. While this is a complicated process, these telomeres can be thought of as biological “clocks” in terms of the aging process. As they continue to shorten, our bodies will suffer the ravages of older age (less pliable skin, organ problems and lower immune systems to name a few results). Stem cells may be able to rebuild these telomeres. By increasing their length, it is predicted that the devastating effects of aging could likewise be impacted. However, there are still many variables to address.
Other Anti-Aging Effects
Many online articles have highlighted that there are some other interesting effects which have been observed under laboratory settings. For instance, healthy stem cells were placed next to older cells in a petri dish. The older cells actually performed better thanks to their younger counterparts. Injecting stem cells into mice dramatically increased their lifespans as well; a clear indication that these building blocks were indeed quite important.
However, we must also recognise that one of the effects of aging is an increased susceptibility to chronic illnesses such as cancer. Should stem cells likewise be able to replace other mutated cells, the instances of cancer could be greatly reduced. Another significant finding should be mentioned here. For example, it was previously thought that structures within the brain were unable repair themselves if they had become damaged over time. Stem cell injections are able to spur blood vessels to reproduce; an ability which was believed to be impossible only a handful of years ago.
Increased Bone Mass
One of the most interesting features of stem cells is that they tend to “stick” to the area in which they were first injected. Osteoporosis and other conditions are another result of aging. Scientists have recently discovered that injecting undifferentiated stem cells into the bones of animals caused the density to markedly increase. Should this prove to have the same results in humans, the implications could be profound. Older individuals may be able to enjoy greater levels of mobility. In turn, less of a sedentary lifestyle could help them to live longer. This is a convenient secondary effect of stem cell implantation.
There is still much research to be done before human trials begin. Still, the future looks very bright for this revolutionary field.