Chinese scientists claim to have developed a new type of treatment that delays the effects of ageing and can extend the lifespan of mice.
Experts say the anti-ageing developments in new gene therapy could one day be used on humans.
The method, detailed in a paper in the Science Translational Medicine journal, involves inactivating a gene called kat7 which scientists found to be a key contributor to cellular ageing.
The specific therapy they used and the results were a world first, co-supervisor of the project Professor Qu Jing, said.
The 40-year-old specialist in ageing and regenerative medicine from the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said: "These mice show after 6 to 8 months overall improved appearance and grip strength and most importantly they have extended lifespan for about 25 per cent."
The team of biologists from various CAS departments screened thousands of genes for those which were particularly strong drivers of cellular senescence, the term used to describe cellular ageing.
They identified 100 genes out of around 10,000, and kat7 was the most efficient at contributing to senescence in cells, Qu said.
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Kat7 is one of tens of thousands of genes found in the cells of mammals. The researchers inactivated it in the livers of the mice using a method called a lentiviral vector.
Professor Jing said: "We just tested the function of the gene in different kinds of cell types, in the human stem cell, the mesenchymal progenitor cells, in the human liver cell and the mouse liver cell and for all of these cells we didn't see any detectable cellular toxicity.
"And for the mice, we also didn't see any side effects yet."
Despite this, the method is a long way from being ready for human trials, Qu said.
She added: "It's still definitely necessary to test the function of kat7 in other cell types of humans and other organs of mice and in the other pre-clinical animals before we use the strategy for human ageing or other health conditions.
"In the end, we hope that we can find a way to delay ageing even by a very minor percentage in the future."
Professor Jing said she hopes to be able to test the method on primates next, but it would require a lot of funding and much more research first.