Trio of gene therapies seeks to reverse age-related diseases to make us ‘healthy, youthful later in life’

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Image: Sally Keena/ABC News

The legendary synthetic biologist Dr. George Church and team at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University took a first step towards cracking the ultimate question of anti-aging research. They combined three gene therapies, each linked to a health problem associated with aging, into a single vaccine-like shot and gave it to ailing mice. The combination treatment reversed diabetes and obesity while improving heart and kidney function—even when those organs had already begun failing.

“If you hit enough specific diseases, you’re getting at the core aging components that are common to all of them,” said Church.

Rather than genetically modifying the mice, the team used a virus to encode genetic material that “fine-tunes” the activity of all three genes, but leaves the genome alone. In this way, the team explained, the combination therapy is far more easily applicable to humans in the long run.

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“Gene therapy gives you a testable therapy at scale in mice. And we can move from mice to dogs and then to humans. We’re focusing on the reversal of age-related diseases so we’ll be more healthy and youthful later in life,” said Church.

Read full, original post: How Much Can We Delay Aging? A Gene Therapy Trial Is About to Find Out

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