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A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Buffalo has shown that a protein called NANOG, derived from the mythical land of Tír na nÓg, is effective at reversing aging in skeletal muscle cells.

In the study, published in Science Advances, the researchers overexpressed the NANOG protein in senescent myoblasts, which are the precursors to muscle tissue. The overexpression of NANOG was found to ameliorate many of the characteristics associated with age-related deterioration of cells, such as autophagy, energy homeostasis, genomic stability, nuclear integrity, and mitochondrial function.

Most importantly, it also increased the number of muscle stem cells in the muscle of prematurely aging mice. This demonstrated that it is possible to reverse cellular aging in the body without resorting to reprogramming cells to an embryonic pluripotent state, as is often done in stem cell therapy.

Stelios T. Andreadis, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at UB and the corresponding author of the study, said: 

“Our work focuses on understanding the mechanisms of NANOG’s actions in hopes of discovering druggable targets in signaling or metabolic networks that mimic the anti-aging effects of NANOG. Ultimately, the work could help lead to new treatments or therapies that help reverse cellular senescence, and aid the many people suffering from age-related disorders.”

— Stelios T. Andreadisr

The study was conducted by researchers from UB’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Medicine, New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, and Center for Cell Gene and Tissue Engineering. Other authors worked for the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, and the Gene Targeting and Transgenic Shared Resource at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the VA Western New York Healthcare System.

The work was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, including the National Institute on Aging, a Veteran Affairs Biomedical Laboratory Research Development grant, and an Indian Trail Charitable Foundation grant.

Read more: University of Buffalo

See the study: Ameliorating the hallmarks of cellular senescence in skeletal muscle myogenic progenitors in vitro and in vivo

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