Editor’s note: The following is part of a Q&A interview with Vittorio Sebastiano, a research professor of reproductive biology at Stanford University.
What impact will your work have on aging research?
I’m studying whether we can separate the process of functional reprogramming of cells from the process of aging reprogramming of cells. Typically these two processes happen at the same time. My hypothesis is that we can induce cellular rejuvenation without changing the function of the cells. If we can manage to do this, we could start thinking about a way to stall aging.
Why are you interested in separating aging reprogramming from functional reprogramming?
[I]f we could separate the two types of reprogramming and achieve only reprogramming of age without touching the function of a cell, then in principle we could apply reprogramming in vivo to every single cell in the body and rejuvenate them. This could be a paradigm shift in the way we approach aging.
Do the ethics of age reversal concern you?
Yes, the ambition is huge, the potential applications could be dramatic, but that doesn’t mean that we are going to become immortal in some problematic way. After all, one way or the other, we have to die. We will just understand aging in a better way, and develop better drugs, and keep people happier and healthier for a few more years.
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