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A Stem Cell Refresh Extends Lifespan

In a previous blog post, I mentioned that one of the most compelling potential uses of our banked cells is using them to rejuvenate ourselves by transplanting our young stem cells into our older self.

A new study provides new evidence that this works quite well in mice.

Recently, a group of researchers led by Dr. Marina Kovina, transplanted bone marrow cells from young mice donors to genetically matched old mice. Six injections of young bone marrow spaced one month apart increased the lifespan of the old mice by 28%. If this extension translated proportionally to humans, the increase in lifespan would be almost 20 years.

Adapted from Kovina et al., Front Genet. 2019; 10:310

Of course, there are many differences between mice and humans. Nevertheless, this study demonstrates that a simple transplantation of young biology can have potent rejuvenating effects.

Importantly, the recipient mice in this experiment were quite old to begin with. The transplantation was performed at the time when half of the population had already died. If mirrored in humans, this treatment would have been given to 75-year-old individuals.

Also, of note, when the researchers examined the animal’s bone marrow, they found that 30% of the cells were from the young donors. This means the donated cells stuck around, which reduced the age of the mice’s bone marrow.

Work remains to be done before we can start putting our young cells back into ourselves. However, evidence is growing that suggests a “stem cell refresh” could extend healthy life.

As stated by the researchers in this study: “On the bases of the above and our data, we advocate a more rapid implementation of nonablative stem cell transplantation into the clinic not only for pathology treatment, but also for rejuvenation.”

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