Researchers from Keio University, Japan, have succeeded in creating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) from the blood of people aged 110 or older, aiming to discover the key to longevity, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.
There are more than 47,000 people aged 100 or older in Japan, but only about 60 have what is called superlongevity, they are aged 110 or older.
The Keio team, led by Nobuyoshi Hirose and Shinsuke Yuasa, took blood from 13 men and women with superlongevity, and made iPS cells from the samples of four of them. The remaining samples were preserved by freezing.
It has been learned that people with superlongevity are less susceptible to such problems as hardening of the arteries and the development of cancer. Their cells may have a stronger defense mechanism against illness than those of ordinary people, but the details have yet to be clarified.
The team also plans to analyze the genome of the people with superlongevity to clarify the secret of a long life.
The study of the iPS cells could make it possible to observe cells of various organs and tissues before they begin to differentiate, which could reveal the characteristics of the cells of people with superlongevity at the time of their birth.
“If we can discover the key to longevity, the knowledge may help prevent hardening of the arteries and cancer as well as promote the development of new medicine,” said Nobuyoshi Hirose.
“Analysis of the genome of the people with superlongevity may help clarify the genetic factors behind a long life.”
iPS cells were first created by Kyoto University Prof. Shinya Yamanaka and his colleagues in 2006. Just like fertilized eggs, iPS cells taken from human skin cells or other somatic cells can transform into any kind of organ or tissue and can reproduce indefinitely.