‘Fountain of youth’ gene link

A ‘fountain of youth’ gene may hold the key to faster healing of injuries and damage caused by degenerative diseases, say scientists.

The gene is thought to provide one explanation for why animals recover from tissue injury much more easily when they are young.

Known as Lin28a, the gene is highly active in embryos but dormant in adults. Scientists found that “waking up” the gene in adult mice accelerated the regrowth of hair and the healing of injuries.

They believe it may some day be possible to simulate the gene’s effect with drugs.

“It sounds like science fiction, but Lin28a could be part of a healing cocktail that gives adults the superior tissue repair seen in juvenile animals,” said US study leader George Daley, from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard.

The gene is “evolutionary conserved”, meaning it is found across the animal kingdom in amphibians, fish, insects, and mammals.


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