One of the more innovative methods of medically inducing physical regeneration in people–especially the aged—is through stem cell therapy. The problem is, even that process, is about thirty years old.
A new study published in Science conducted by researchers at EPFL’s Laboratory of Integrated Systems Physiology (LISP) scientists gave these cells a whole new look: instead of “revitalizing” you with the help of stem cells, they revitalized stem cells instead.
By using a chemical close to vitamin B3 called Nicotinamide riboside (NR) in 2-year-old mice, the results were highly favorable. Mice who were given this chemical had better muscle regeneration, and had lived longer than mice who weren’t.
Hongbo Zhang, who is part of the team behind this new study, saw that the deterioration of regeneration points to how the “powerhouse” of the cell—the mitochondria—changes with age.
Regeneration of certain vital organs in mammals highly depend on the body’s stem cells for repair, wherein these cells differentiate into the many cell types of the body, replacing old ones with new ones. The problem is, that only works best in the young, because stem cells age, too.
The study gave the researchers a more in-depth look at how the mitochondria of the stem cell works inside to keep these cells maintained and on-the-go. The chemical that they used in the study, NR, is a precursor of NAD+, which is important to the proper functioning of mitochondria.
John Auwerx, head of LISP, saw this method of taking in a vitamin to be less invasive, saying, “we are not talking about introducing foreign substances into the body but rather restoring the body’s ability to repair itself with a product that can be taken with food.”
The researchers of the study have yet to find any adverse side effects from the use of NR. These experts assert that while it revitalizes stem cells, it could also give pathological ones a good boost…which isn’t really good.