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Cells in Reverse

May 9, 2006

Despite the popularity of anti-wrinkle creams, face lifts, and viagra, nobody’s found a way to truly reverse the aging process. But recently scientists turned back the clock on a much smaller scale.


Putting cells in reverse. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

For the first time, scientists have reversed the process of cell division: a trick once thought to be as impossible as un-ringing a bell. Molecular biologist Gary Gorbsky of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation led the effort. By tinkering with proteins that regulate the process, they turned the clock back from the end of the cell cycle to the middle.

GARY GORBSKY (Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation):
And specifically, the end stages, where they’re actually divided in half, we’ve been able to reverse that process, and go from the stage at which you have two cells back to the stage at which you have a single cell.

This worked only when the divided cells hadn’t completely finished separating. The implications aren’t clear yet, but the technique could be useful to cancer researchers, who are always looking for ways to keep rogue cells under control. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.