Cambridge scientists have regenerated a 53-year-old woman’s skin cells to the level of a 23-year-old. They hope they may achieve the same outcomes with different tissues in the body. The ultimate goal is to discover treatments for age-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and neurological disorders. The method is the same as that which was used to create Dolly the cloned sheep over 25 years ago. The team’s head, Prof. Wolf Reik of Cambridge’s Babraham Institute, told in an interview that he believed the technology could one day be used to keep people healthier as they age.

Prof. Reik emphasized that the study, which was published in eLife, was still in its early phases. Several scientific challenges needed to be overcome before it could leave his lab and enter the clinic, he added. However, he noted that the first time he was able to generate cell regeneration was a huge step forward. Prof. Reik believes that one of the first applications could be the development of medications to renew skin in older people in parts of the body where they have been wounded or burned, in order to speed up healing. The researchers demonstrated that their regenerated skin cells travel faster in wound simulations, suggesting that this is theoretically possible.