"Now we have found a way to lengthen human telomeres by as much as 1,000 nucleotides, turning back the internal clock in these cells by the equivalent of many years of human life," said Helen Blau, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford and director of the university's Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology.
"This greatly increases the number of cells available for studies such as drug testing or disease modeling."
A paper describing the research was published today in the FASEB Journal
, who also holds the Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Professorship, is the senior author.
"This new approach paves the way toward preventing or treating diseases of aging," said Blau
"There are also highly debilitating genetic diseases associated with telomere shortening that could benefit from such a potential treatment."
colleagues became interested in telomeres when previous work in her
lab showed that the muscle stem cells of boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy had telomeres that were much shorter than those of boys without the disease.
"We're working to understand more about the differences among cell types, and how we can overcome those differences to allow this approach to be more universally useful," said Blau, who also is a member of the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.