A drug that boosts the regeneration of stem cells extends life expectancy in mice

January 23, 2023

  • Mice transplanted with blood stem cells previously treated with this drug managed to live longer.

  • The work focuses on endogenous blood stem cell rejuvenation as a possible strategy to regenerate tissues and improve the health and life expectancy of the elderly.

A team of researchers shows that the transplantation of blood stem cells previously treated with a drug that enhances their regeneration capacity can extend life expectancy in mice. Scientists from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the Clinical Translation Program in Regenerative Medicine of Catalonia (P-CMR[C]), in collaboration with the University of Ulm in Germany, have published the results in the journal Regenerative Medicine from the Nature group.

Aging is associated with a tissue regeneration decrease caused by the depletion of stem cells. “This work provides the first proof-of-concept evidence that increasing the regenerative potential of aged endogenous stem cells might indeed represent an important strategy to rejuvenate tissues and improve health and life expectancy in the elderly,” says Dr. Carolina. Florian, group leader at IDIBELL and P-CMR[C] and project leader.

Blood stem cells, precursors of all blood cell types, are carriers for many regeneration factors. These results show how the rejuvenation of these cells could represent an effective strategy to improve the aging of the whole organism since it seems that their stimulation could be enough to rejuvenate everything.

A drug to rejuvenate blood stem cells

The drug used in this study to rejuvenate stem cells is CASIN, an inhibitor of a Cdc42 protein. Results show that stem cell treatment with this inhibitor stimulates their regeneration and, consequently, their transplantation improves life expectancy in mice.

The Cdc42 protein is involved in cell polarity and preserves symmetry during cell division. Its activity increases with age, and its inhibition, with great rejuvenating potential, can be achieved with a brief CASIN treatment in elderly mice.

This work has been possible thanks to the collaboration of IDIBELL and P-CMR[C] with the team led by Professor Hartmut Geiger from the University of Ulm (Germany) and Professor Yi Zheng from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.