If you reach the age of 110 or older, you're called a supercentenarian and you're known for having remarkable health. There are only 28 recorded supercentenarians alive in the world today, so when scientists managed to reprogram the cells of a 114-year-old woman for the first time ever, there was cause to celebrate.
The woman is known for being the world's oldest donor to date.
The findings were published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.
Cells reprogrammed for the first time ever
Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys and AgeX Therapeutics have reprogrammed the cells of a supercentenarian in a bid to answer the question: "Can we reprogram cells this old?" as per stem cell biologist Evan Snyder.
This elite group of people seems to be resistant to diseases such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, and cancer; however, it's not yet understood why some people can become supercentenarians while others can't.
Snyder, of Sanford Burnham Prebys, acknowledged that "Now we have shown it can be done, and we have a valuable tool for finding the genes and other factors that slow down the aging process."
In their study, the scientists reprogrammed the cells of the 114-year-old woman, a healthy 43-year-old person, and an eight-year-old child with progeria — a condition that makes a person age rapidly. What the team discovered was that the supercentenarian's cells transformed as easily as the healthy person's and the child with progeria.
Thanks to their research and overcoming a key technological hurdle, this study could lead to the creation of drugs that can emulate the cells of supercentenarians. As Snyder points out "Why do supercentenarians age so slowly? We are now set to answer that question in a way no one has been able to before."