BEIJING, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) — For the first time, a genome-wide CRISPR-based screening technology has identified a new driver of cellular senescence. It can form part of new strategies to delay aging and prevent aging-associated diseases, Chinese researchers said.
By screening and identifying more than 100 genes responsible for the aging of human cells, the research team demonstrated that knocking out, or disabling, some genes by CRISPR can discourage the aging of human mesenchymal precursor cells (hMPCs). Among the genes that lead to senility, and KAT7 (a histone acetyltransferase), is one of the catalysts for aging.
Knocking out KAT7 has been proven effective in alleviating cellular senescence in the team’s experiments, said Zhang Weiqi, a researcher at the Beijing Institute of Genomics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The scientists managed to reduce the proportion of the senescent cells in the livers of aged mice and prolonged the lifespan of physiologically aged mice and those with progeria.
The novel gene therapy, based on disabling a single gene or using KAT7 inhibitors, could extend mammal life. It could also slow down the aging of human liver cells. It suggests a massive potential for its application in translational medicine against human aging.
The study was published on Thursday in Science Translational Medicine online.