Scientists Find Another Path To The Fountain Of Eternal Youth

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered an efficient and safe method to turn adult blood cells "all the way back to the way [they were] when that person was a six-day-old embryo". The discovery could be the key to cure the incurable and open the door some day to eternal youth.

Scientists believe that stem cell therapy could change medicine forever. However, these therapies are impossible to implement on a large scale because you can't acquire embryonic stem cells without having to use actual human embryos -- an extremely controversial undertaking. The alternative has always been to use the stem cells found in umbilical cords -- which is why rich people use umbilical cord storage facilities to guarantee future treatments for their kids -- or use viruses to reprogram adult cells. These viruses can successfully return adult cells to their stem cell state, but the procedure opens the door to numerous complications as a result of potential DNA mutations. And those mutations could lead to cancer.

But this new method changes everything. To start with, it uses normal adult blood cells from the patient, so there's not need to keep umbilical cords in storage. It also doesn't use any virus reprogramming, so it's completely safe. It's also very efficient: researchers successfully transformed about 50 to 60 per cent of adult blood cells into embryonic stem cells that can then be turn into any type of cell -- a heart muscle cell, a bone cell, a nerve cell, anything.

How it works

Described in the August 8 issue of the journal Public Library of Science, the rejuvenating method uses plasmids, DNA molecules that are usually present in bacteria and eukaryotic organisms. These plasmids can replicate themselves independently from the chromosomal DNA, disappearing after they complete their function.

Using electrical pulses, the researchers opened holes in the membrane of blood cells extracted from a patient's spinal cord. They used these tiny holes to inject plasmids loaded with four genes, programmed to make the cells revert to a primitive state. After the plasmids completed their function, they cultivated the cells with irradiated bone-marrow cells. Between seven and 14 days later, the cultivated cells magically turned to embryonic stem cells.

The team is now evaluating the quality of these cells, but the potential to accelerate current and future stem cell treatments like never before is nothing sort of miraculous. By getting rid of all the barriers to entry, medical researchers could experiment at a faster pace. And once new therapies are in place, everyone on the planet would be able to receive self-transplants of embryonic cells to cure diseases, fix spinal cords or eye nerves, and rejuvenate organs by renewing tissues without rejection risks or any other side effect. Hypothetically, if you're able to perpetually fix any part of your body, there's no reason you wouldn't be able to live as long as you wanted.

We are not there yet, of course, but the path is more open and wider than ever. Once more, the future is not arriving soon enough. [PLoS One via Medical Xpress]

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    It both excites and terrifies me just how fast they are going in this field. On the one hand, well, no one wants to die if they can help it and this research is getting closer and closer to curing death! On the other hand, the worlds population of older people, IE. retires, is increasing incrementally...... Can we at least ban Bogans from using this unless they can speak without swearing and stop being so bloody racist! :)

      This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

      Thanks to mining jobs, they'll be the first ones to take advantage of it...
      Hahaha, no, they'll still spend it all on big TVs, drugs, booze, suped up utes and Jim Beam posters. :)

    Are we actually getting close enough to this sort of thing we should think about the consequences? I'd love to live forever, but if everyone lived forever, and kept having babies... well... a logistical problem!

      would mean we could travel a hell of a long way into space to set up camp though :)

        You, sir, have an extremely good point!

        ^ This guy!

        Haha yes yes! This would indeed be a lovely outcome.

        Concern have been mentioned about too many babies... Female humans are born with only a set number of eggs so even though potentially a female human could live forever they would have an expiry date to be able to make use of those eggs unless there was a way to slow down the menstruation rate from monthly to yearly?

      The longer you live, the less babies you have... and attrition from ageing isn't as huge a factor as people think. There would be problems obviously but they'd be pretty slow to show up, it wouldn't be a sudden population overflow, like water trying to go down a blocked drain. :)

        Even if only 10% of people had only 1 baby, with an immortal population that'd overflow the Earth fairly quick.

          Not really because there's still death from all other causes and the "immortal population" would only be in the minority.

            ...where did this supposition come from? My original comment, that all this is in reply to, was 'if everyone lived forever'. So... huh?

              One other cause would eventually be starvation.

    Am i the only one who though of Bioshock when I read the word plasmid?


      But you can rest easy knowing you are a good person.

      No you are not!
      Soon everyone can be "SMARTER than Einstein, STRONGER than Hercules...."

        I already am seeing as Einstein and Hercules (if he existed) are both dead.

        Go on ask Einstein a question right now or ask Hercules to lift something for you. I bet they won't be able to but I will use a search engine to answer your question (maybe) and use technology to lift you object (again maybe) so you see I am ;P

    No doubt religion is going to step in and say "you play god" and slow the research down a whole lot.

      Um, not exactly. What "religion" does is say, "Hey, maybe you need to think a bit more about this 'cause, you know, just because something is possible doesn't make it it right".

      Which is why the author wrote, "... you can’t acquire embryonic stem cells without having to use actual human embryos — an extremely controversial undertaking."

      i.e. you can't kill people to cure other people.

      You mustn't do evil to bring about good.

      "Science" has nothing to say about right and wrong.

      Religion, i.e. morality, does.

        What a ridiculous notion. You don't need religion to have morals. Embryonic stem cells kill "people"? Please. Its a bunch of cells.

        In my opinion its much more moral to think of all the lives this could save. Its immoral to try to stop progress because of your own personal religious dogma. Just as its immoral for the Catholic church to not promote condoms to save lives.

    We have enough Youth.

    Give us a fountain of Smart's!


    Living forever would be a nightmare - this is the vision religious people have of the afterlife in heaven, which isnt really afterlife but a continuation of life, just in another place. Just think about what forever means. That's a hell of a long time. Wouldn't you tire of everything eventually? Star trek (next gen + voyager) covered this with their stories about "The Q", a race of beings who have seen it, been there, done that, now what do we do? Perhaps the shortness of our lives is what drives us to achieve.

      That's so deep i'm going to cry...

      Feel free to refuse the treatment if it ever eventuates. In the mean time you and your religious nutjob mate from 3 post ago need to the hell out everyone else's way. So sick of a certain group of people on this plant dictating what we can and can do with our own bodies.

      It's our body, so what the hell gives you the right to tell us what do with it.

        "Get the hell out everyone else’s way" and "sick of a certain group of people on this planet". Sorry i've been working 15 hour shifts and i'm a bit tired. #rant #FML

    When Dr. Karl said some years ago that "the current generation of adults could be the last to die, or the first to live indefinitely", I thought he was crazy. Now... I'm really not so sure.

    Hell yes! This is brilliant. Not because of the "Fountain of Youth" stuff, but it negates the controversy surrounding stem cells and is a big step in the progress of modern medicine.

    Am I the only one who thought of the T-Virus after reading the first paragraph?

    queue the dystopian future of Justin Timberlake running with a clock on his arm...

      you could've ended that sentence before the word 'running' and it would've made sense too :D

    Good Christ..........Let's be real, mates. This ain't gonna happen because we do not pay taxes when we retire.

    Now if they can find a way to tax sten cells, well Cripey mates, we will have to cancel the Barby!!!

    There has to be death. I'm waiting for heaps of people to die. Would you like to live in a world where Justin Bieber lives eternally?

    We also have a huge world population that is struggling to feed itself. We need to reduce the population to increase the quality of life for humans on this planet.

    And what if we send some people out to travel to distant planets, only to find that nothing is quite suitable.

    It's time we decide to settle for the world and get married to the idea of living in it and making it more habitable.

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