The Curious Case of Benjamin Mouse
Scientists in Harvard have successfully reversed the ageing process in genetically modified mice! The mice were genetically altered to age faster than normal but, when given a special type of oestrogen, the mice returned to a younger state. The rodents became fertile again, their brains, livers and other internal organs grew, and the mice performed better on cognitive tests. The rejuvenation is down to the production of a enzyme called telomerase in the mice (which was triggered by the oestrogen injection), which protects DNA during replication. Telomerase performs a similar function in humans so, in theory at least, the study might give hope to people who suffer from progeria and other accelerated ageing disorders. But, the mice used in the experiment were genetically modified, so the scientists will now look to see if the enzyme has an effect on normal mice before getting too excited about the results. Earlier experiments saw mice develop cancer with high levels of telomerase.