Scientists in Cambridge have regenerated the skin cells of a 53-year-old woman to the level of a 23-year-old. They believe they can achieve the same results with other bodily tissues. The ultimate goal is to find cures for age-related ailments like diabetes, heart disease, and neurological disorders. The process is based on the same methods that were used to generate Dolly the cloned sheep over 25 years ago. Prof. Wolf Reik of the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, the team’s leader, told in an interview that he hoped the technology could one day be used to keep people healthier as they age. “We have been dreaming about this kind of thing. Many common diseases get worse with age and to think about helping people in this way is super exciting,” he said.

Prof. Reik warned that the research, which was published in the journal eLife, was still in its early stages. Before it could go out of his lab and into the clinic, he added, several scientific difficulties needed to be resolved. However, he stated that establishing cell regeneration for the first time was a significant step forward. Some of the first uses, according to Prof. Reik, could be developing drugs to renew skin in older individuals in areas of the body where they have been cut or burned, to speed up healing. In trials imitating a wound, the researchers showed that their rejuvenated skin cells migrate faster, demonstrating that this is achievable in principle.