How to slow Aging(even Reverse it)!!!!

Everyone wants to be immortal and live forever, or at least want to go back as a young adult and be fit again. So is there any way to prevent or reverse Aging.

The epigenome is responsible for turning off and turning on different parts of DNA. Different cells have different Epigenome and the same DNA. As we get old we lose information in our epigenome. Eg: Skin cell needs to remain skin cell. If you have lost your epigenome, the skin cell will forget what type of cell that is. it might become a brain cell. That may not sound dangerous but think what if brain cells turn into some different cell then it’s surely not good, this is what aging is.

CELL CAN DO WRONG THINGS IF THEIR EPIGENOME IS LOST. CELLS LOSE THEIR IDENTITY. When cells DNA gets damaged, it takes the help of proteins and makes the chromosome as it was earlier and so it keeps your epigenome intact(resetting of epigenome). But this happens correctly 99%of times and that 1% is called aging. By reading the methylation pattern one can find its age and find it out when is someone going to die.

Horvath clock: The little chemicals that accumulate on the DNA like a clock on the teeth, we can read them and the more you have, the older you are. Our biological age is different than our normal age.

The clock of aging is nothing but a loss of information of the cell. So if we disturb or break someone’s chromosome, aging fastens. DNA methylation clock: More the methylation patterns the older you are. By maintaining our epigenomes, we can slow down the process of aging.

How to maintain these epigenomes. There’s this theory which says that billions of years ago, some early bacterias took this revolutionary step. When the conditions are good, they grow and reproduce thereby utilizing energy and when the conditions were tough, they used their energy to protect and repair their cells. They evolved their longevity genes. During growth and reproduction, their longevity genes become dormant and during tough times, the same longevity genes become active. These genes, triggered by adversity create enzymes which among other things maintain their epigenome. Today, those same longevity genes can be found in bacteria, in us. These genes sense when we run a lot, we have lost our breath or we’re hungry and so we are a little bit hot but a little bit cold. So these genes are turning on their general defense against aging.

Defense Mechanism: Parts of our cell fall apart so these genes can put them together. They can get rid of properly fold the misfolded proteins. The ends of the chromosome get shorter and so they can lengthen them. The most important among these is maintaining the epigenetic information so that our cells don’t forget what to do.

There are three types of longevity genes:

1) These are the ones we work on: Sirtuins. They control the information in the cell. SIR in sirtuins stand for silent information regulator.

2) EMP Kinase(AMPK(AMP-activated protein kinase)): These group of genes senses how much energy we are taking in mostly in the form of sugar.

3) mTOR(mammalian target of rapamycin): These genes control and respond to how much amino acids we are taking in.

So if you intake a lot of amino acid by some means, that will actually prevent mTOR being hunkering down and keeping you live longer.

To keep mouse live longer:

1)Reduce the amount of time it eats(periodic fasting).

2) To keep it a little bit cool.

3) To restrict its amino acid.

There are molecules on the sirtuin pathway and trick the body.

So wrapping up, there are six things which you can do to slow down aging:

1. Avoid DNA Damage

2. Eat Less

3. Eat less protein

4. Excercise

5. Be uncomfortably cold.

6. Be uncomfortably hot.

All these things will trigger your body’s longevity genes into maintaining your epigenome. Going into repair and protect mode rather than going it grow and reproduce mode.

Coming to a more exciting part.

Reversing Genome(Exciting isn’t it!!!)

How to do that?

Effectively, you would need to take the epigenome and reset it back to an earlier time.

Shinya Yamanaka: He found our four factors called the Yamanaka factors which when applied to gene therapy to an adult will reset the whole epigenome back to how that cell was when it was an embryo. So it is what is called a pluripotent stem cell. Doing this will turn your body into a giant tumor because in that case, your body wouldn’t know how to differentiate.

An experiment was conducted on mice. Gene therapy was done on the retinas of old mice as being able to regain your vision once you go blind is the most difficult part. Their retinas were turned to young again, reversed aging was performed in their retinas which made their retinas as they were one-year-old mice and the surprising thing was that mice were able to see again just like they were young again. How to reset the eye cells as we can’t reset their cells to stem cells as resetting stem cells would lead to the formation of a giant tumor in the back of their eye.

So there are a couple of things to be taken care of: Four out of three factors were used which won the Nobel prize. The fourth was Mick, which was dropped as it causes cancer. The three were much more suitable to take the age of the eye backward. The second was that these three factors where turned off in order to prevent taking the eye age too far back.

In order to apply gene therapy at each of your trillions of cells is impossible and so you probably need another way.

This is where the jellyfish come in. Any adult cell in moon jellyfish can actually be reset into the earlier stage of its life cycle. It can become a polyp again. So these jellyfish and capable of activating something like the Yamanaka factors and resetting their epigenomes to an earlier time in their lives. Its mechanism is still not clear. Figuring out this mechanism will pave our way to reverse aging.

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Shivang Khandelwal

Shivang Khandelwal

Penultimate year Btech student of Biotechnology Branch at IIT Jodhpur. Physics enthusiast and a researcher. Contact: khandelwal.2@iitj.ac.in