CHEMICAL FOUND IN RED WINE AND DARK CHOCOLATE REJUVENATES CELLS, STUDY FINDS

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21ST, 2020.-

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A compound in dark chocolate and red wine could help rejuvenate cells, according to a scientific breakthrough.

Researchers from the Universities of Exeter and Brighton discovered a way to rejuvenate inactive senescent cells and found that they could make the cells both look and behave like younger cells.

The researchers applied compounds called resveratrol analogues, which are chemicals based on a substance naturally found in red wine, dark chocolate, red grapes, and blueberries, to cells in culture.

Previous research by the University of Exeter had found that a class of genes called splicing factors are progressively switched off as we age.

But the new study found that applying the resveratrol analogues to the cells caused splicing factors to be switched back on.

Within hours of treatment, older cells had started to divide and had longer telomeres, which are the ‘caps’ on the chromosomes which shorten as we age.

The researchers hope that the breakthrough could lead to therapies that help people age better and without many of degenerative problems people encounter as we get older.

One of the reasons we become more susceptible to disease as we age is that our tissues accumulate senescent cells which are alive but do not grow or function as they should.

Splicing factors ensure genes function as they should, but as we get older, they start to work less efficiently or not at all, which restricts the ability of cells to respond to challenges in their environment.

Senescent cells, which can be found in most organs from older people, also have fewer splicing factors, the researchers explain.

Professor Lorna Harries, Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Exeter, said: “This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life.

“Our data suggests that using chemicals to switch back on the major class of genes that are switched off as we age might provide a means to restore function to old cells.”

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