US scientists identify gene that can reverse wrinkles, hair loss

WASHINGTON • A research team from the United States has identified a gene in mice that can reverse wrinkles and hair loss.

And the team said it believes the breakthrough that could be applied to humans in the future, according to media reports last week.

"Wrinkled skin and hair loss are hallmarks of ageing. What if they could be reversed?" asked researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

In the study, mice were given an antibiotic that prompted changes in their gene. The antibiotic induced a mutation and the mice developed a wrinkled skin, and also underwent extensive hair loss in a matter of weeks.

The mutation was caused by the mitochondria - or structures that function like the cell's digestive system - becoming dysfunctional.

However, when the mitochondrial function was restored, the mice returned to having smooth skin and thick fur, indistinguishable from a healthy mouse of the same age.

"To our knowledge, this observation is unprecedented," said Dr Keshav Singh, professor of genetics at the UAB School of Medicine.

When the mitochondrial function was restored, the mice returned to having smooth skin and thick fur, indistinguishable from a healthy mouse of the same age.

Dr Singh said the mouse model should provide an opportunity for the development of preventive and therapeutic drug development strategies to augment mitochondrial functions for the treatment of ageing-associated and other diseases.

In humans, a decline in mitochondrial functions is seen during ageing, and mitochondrial dysfunction can lead to age-related diseases. A depletion of the DNA in mitochondria is also associated with human mitochondrial diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, age-associated neurological disorders, and cancer.

XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2018, with the headline 'US scientists identify gene that can reverse wrinkles, hair loss'. Print Edition | Subscribe