We have stem cells all over our body. Every single tissue and organ in our body suffers constant damage that needs to be repaired. The ability to repair our tissues is dependent on the regenerative capacity of stem cells. Aging is thought to be the loss of that regenerative capacity. As our tissues can’t be repaired fast enough, then damage accumulates. For those reasons, researchers have been looking to see if replenishing stem cells can have an anti-aging effect.
A new study out of Korea suggests that that stem cells can indeed become the long sought “Fountain of Youth”. Researchers took a group of lab rats (8 to 10 months old) and divided them into 3 groups: one group received monthly intravenous (IV) infiltrations of human mesenchymal stem cells derived from fat, another group received monthly infiltrations of human mesenchymal stem cells derived from placental amniotic membranes, and the third group received nothing. At the end of 20 months almost all the rats that received nothing were dead (rats have a very short life span) with only 30% surviving, while 70% of the rats that received stem cells from amniotic membranes were alive and 100% of rats that received fat-derived stem cells were alive. The mean life span for those groups were 605 days (no stem cell injections), 746 days (amniotic membrane stem cells), and 794 days (fat-derived stem cells).
Not only stem cell injections prolonged the life span of those rats, but it appears that rats that received stem cell injections also lived healthier lives, as they showed increased motor and cognitive function throughout the study.
It will be a long time before this leads to applications that can prolong our lives, but it gets to show the immense potential of stem cell therapies in improving our health and our lives.
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