Scientists Believe They Found 'Fountain of Youth' in Sleeping Stem Cells

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Scientists believe they may have found the secret to the fountain of youth within "sleeping" stem cells which sit under the skin.

They found that as we age, we are less capable of triggering the cells to do what they are supposed to do. The cells act as regenerators to damaged parts of the skin.

Researchers believe that this study will open the door to create more effective beauty treatments to get rid of wrinkles and even prevent skin cancer.

The study was complex and consisted of a virtual simulation to find out more about the sleeping stem cells and their behavior as people age.

"The theory which seems to fit best says skin has a population of 'sleeping' stem cells, which sit in the lowest layer of the skin but do not constantly divide to make new cells," Dr. Xinshan Li said. "However, these sleeping cells can be called into action if the skin is damaged, or if the numbers of other types of more mature skin cells decrease, ensuring the skin can be constantly regenerated under all conditions."

The "Master Cells" of our body are stem cells, and they are capable of becoming many different types of cells.

"Each time we wake up these cells, to heal a wound or replenish stocks of other cells, a few of them do not go back into sleep mode, so the population slowly reduces," Dr. Li said.

"This explains why older skin is slower to heal and in part why our skin changes as we age. By understanding this mechanism better, it might be possible to find ways to combat the effects of aging on our skin."

Over our lifetime, our skin cells constantly shed and grow, but scientists have had difficulty figuring out how until now.

With virtual models of skin, researchers are now able to predict what happens to our skin cells as we age.

"These models permit exploration of hypotheses in very short periods of time, relative to the lab based bench work," Dr. Arun Upadhyay said. 

Sources: Daily Mail, HNGN