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Researchers Discover Protein That Keeps Blood Stem Cells Healthy As They Age

Update Date: Jun 10, 2014 10:11 AM EDT
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A protein might play an important role in maintaining the health of aging blood stem cells, according to a new research. 

The research explains how loss of a protein called Sirtuin1 (SIRT1) affects the ability of blood stem cells to regenerate normally. The research also found that young blood stem cells lacking SIRT1 behave like an old ones. 

Researchers performed their tests on advanced mouse models and concluded that blood stem cells without adequate SIRT1 resembled aged and defective stem cells. These are also thought to be linked to development of malignancies. 

"Our data shows that SIRT1 is a protein that is required to maintain the health of blood stem cells and supports the possibility that reduced function of this protein with age may compromise healthy aging," said Saghi Ghaffari, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Developmental and Regenerative Biology at Mount Sinai's Black Family Stem Cell Institute, Icahn School of Medicine, in the press release. "Further studies in the laboratory could improve are understanding between aging stem cells and disease."

Researchers are now interested in looking if increasing SIRT1 levels in blood stem cells protects them from unhealthy aging or rejuvenates old blood stem cells. They also plan to look at whether SIRT1 therapy could treat diseases already linked to aging, faulty blood stem cells. 

"The notion that SIRT1 is a powerful regulator of aging has been highly debated, but its connection to the health of blood stem cells is now clear," said Dr. Ghaffari. "Identifying regulators of stem cell aging is of major significance for public health because of their potential power to promote healthy aging and provide targets to combat diseases of aging," Dr. Ghaffari added.

The study has been published online in the journal Stem Cell Reports. 

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