For many people, one of the scariest parts of getting older is the prospect of hair loss and wrinkly skin. While many are comfortable with their own bodies and accept this is a normal part of the ageing process, others aren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of saying goodbye to their former youthful self.
As such, scientists are continually looking at ways to reverse these changes in the body. While they’re not yet at human level, scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have discovered a mutation in mice that causes their skin to become wrinkled and their hair to fall out. This is also known as mitochondrial dysfunction. When scientists turn off the gene linked with signs of ageing, the mice appear more youthful and have more hair compared to others of the same age.
“To our knowledge, this observation is unprecedented,” lead researcher Keshav Singh said.
What is promising is that in humans, a similar decline in mitochondrial function is also seen during the ageing process, with mitochondrial dysfunction associated to age-related diseases. This can include issues ranging from cardiovascular disease to diabetes and cancer to neurological disorders. Researchers are now hoping they can replicate the success from the mouse model to humans.
“This mouse model should provide an unprecedented opportunity for the development of preventive and therapeutic drug development strategies to augment the mitochondrial functions for treatment of ageing-associated skin and hair pathology and other human diseases in which mitochondrial dysfunction plays a significant role,” Sigh said.
The best part is it doesn’t involve invasive procedures – at least not in the mice trials. Researchers were able to induce the mutation in mice when the trigger known as antibiotic doxycycline was added to food or water. Researchers also noted that it had very little impact on other organs.
They also found that the factors that contribute to hair loss and wrinkled skin are reversible.
“It suggests that epigenetic mechanisms underlying mitochondria-to-nucleus cross-talk must play an important role in the restoration of normal skin and hair phenotype,” Singh added. “Further experiments are required to determine whether phenotypic changes in other organs can also be reversed to wildtype level by restoration of mitrochondrial DNA.”
It’s not the only study that has proven positive when it comes to anti-ageing.
Earlier this month, scientists praised a new clinical trial which has found an experimental anti-ageing drug may have the potential to rejuvenate immune systems and protect older people from fatal respiratory infections.