WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
Nov. 29, 2007 -- Researchers say they've turned back the clock on aging skin
-- in mice, at least -- and may be one step closer to unlocking the aging
"The implication is that the aging process is plastic and potentially
amenable to intervention," Stanford University assistant professor of
dermatology Howard Chang, MD, PhD, says in a news release.
But don't kiss your wrinkles good-bye just yet. The technique hasn't been
tested in people and its long-term effects aren't known.
Here's how the experiment worked.
First, Chang's team did some genetic detective work. They analyzed human
tissue samples, looking for signs of gene activity related to aging.
A protein called NF-kB was "strongly associated with aging,"
write the researchers. That protein appeared to control several
Then, Chang and colleagues turned their attention to elderly mice. For two
weeks, the researchers slathered a chemical that blocks NF-kB activity in the
Those mice developed younger-looking skin that was about as thick as the
skin of a newborn mouse.
"We found a pretty striking reversal to that of the young skin,"
He adds that "the findings suggest that aging is not just a result of
wear and tear, but is also the consequence of a continually active genetic
program that might be blocked for improving human health."
But the study was short, and it's not clear if blocking NF-kB is safe for
mice, let alone people.
The findings will appear in the Dec. 15 edition of Genes &
SOURCES: Adler, A. Genes and Development, Dec. 15, 2007; vol 21. News
release, Stanford Medical News, Stanford University. News release, Cold Spring
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