Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Death Postponed
19 February 2015

Death Postponed

The lives of cells in our bodies follow an arc that begins with birth and ends with death, which – if left to their own devices – is a programmed death. By making space for new cells and ensuring that potential cancer cells don't forget to die, the cycle of renewal keeps the body healthy. Now researchers have engineered the reverse, reprogramming hair-follicle stem cells in mice to live longer, to see if this could speed up wound healing. By switching off the process that leads to cell death, or apoptosis, they enabled mice with wounded tails to heal faster and to grow back hair follicles (shown, with stem cells in green and new cells in red), by accumulating a larger number of stem cells that helped replace damaged cells. Viable future therapies will also have to learn to switch programmed cell death back on to stop them running amok.

Written by Tristan Farrow

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