Young blood: Scientists say this protein could be key to reversing aging process

blood stem cells aging process old 0001
The suggestion that young blood may be the key to reversing some of the negative aspects of aging sounds like the setup to a horror movie. In reality, however, it refers to some groundbreaking work being carried out by scientists at the University of Ulm in Germany.

They’ve been examining the ways that old blood can be made young again, and they hypothesize that it might help fight some of the effects of aging. To achieve this, they’ve discovered a protein capable of boosting blood stem cells, which prompts them to act like the stem cells of younger people.

“Older stem cells have several disadvantages,” Dr. Hartmut Geiger, co-author of a paper describing the work, told Digital Trends. “They result in fewer red blood cells, and fewer of an important immune cell that fights infection. They also tend to produce more leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood. All of this is linked, at least in part, to the aging of stem cells. If you have younger stem cells, we think that we can reverse some of these effects.”

Older stem cells tend to possess these negative characteristics thanks to the declining number of so-called “mother” stem cells in our bone marrow as we age. This decline triggers the effects Geiger describes.

In trials with mice, Geiger and his team discovered that older mice have lower levels of a protein called osteopontin. They decided to test the effect of this protein on blood stem cells.

“We took the stem cells from aged mice, incubated them with the osteopontin protein, and then gave them back,” he continued. “These blood stem cells, which had come from older animals, were found to have a lot of the features of stem cells coming from much younger animals in terms of function.”

It’s still early days for the research, but the suggestion that osteopontin could make stem cells behave in a more youthful way is certainly promising. The team is now developing a drug made up of osteopontin and a protein for activating it.

Hopefully human trials can follow in the not-too-distant future — while we’re still around to benefit from them.

Emerging Tech

Artificial tree promises to suck up as much air pollution as a small forest

Startup Biomitech has developed an artificial tree that it claims is capable of sucking up as much air pollution as 368 real trees. It could be a game-changer for cities with limited free space.
Gaming

The best Nintendo Switch games

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Hulu right now (August 2019)

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

Here are the best shows on Netflix right now (August 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix right now (August 2019)

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Emerging Tech

Mars 2020 rover now has a rotating array of drill bits for sampling Martian rock

Most the key components in the Mars 2020 rover are installed and ready to go. The next phase of construction was to install the bit carousel, an important mechanism for the gathering and sorting of samples from the Martian surface.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Racing drones and robotic ping pong trainers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

NASA selects landing site candidates for OSIRIS-Rex to sample asteroid Bennu

Last year, the OSIRIS-REx craft arrived at asteroid Bennu, from which it will collect a sample from the asteroid to be brought back to Earth. Now, the NASA team has selected four potential sites to choose from for the sampling mission.
Emerging Tech

NASA wants to send two more missions to Mars to collect rock samples

With its Mars 2020 mission, NASA hopes to collect samples from the surface of the planet. The challenge is how to get those samples back to Earth. Now, NASA has revealed its plans for two followup missions to Mars.
Emerging Tech

Eric Geusz: Apple engineer by day, spaceship designer by night

An Apple software engineer by day, artist Eric Geusz spends his nights drawing everyday household objects as amazing, science fiction-style spaceships. Check out the impressive results.
Emerging Tech

The black hole at the center of our galaxy is flaring and no one knows why

At the heart of our galaxy lies a supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*. Normally this giant monster is relatively docile, but recently it's been a hotbed of unexpected activity, rapidly glowing 75 times brighter than normal.
Emerging Tech

SpaceIL’s crashed lander may have sent thousands of tardigrades to the moon

When the SpaceIL craft Beresheet crashed into the moon earlier this year, it left more than just an impact mark. Thousands of micro-animals called tardigrades were along for the ride and may have survived the crash.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s satellite projects will study the sun using solar sailing

Small satellites can be used for all sorts of purposes, and NASA has been searching for ideas to push ahead the capabilities of the hardware. The agency has announced two new projects to demonstrate the potential of small satellites.
Emerging Tech

Hubble captures a beautiful cosmic jellyfish made of glowing gas

A new image from Hubble might look like a deep-space jellyfish, but it's not a sign of extraterrestrial life - in fact, it's a planetary nebula called NGC 2022, located in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter).