Researchers from Exeter University and the University of Brighton have found that chocolate and red wine are “the secret to beating wrinkles.” The surprising new study found that substances which occur naturally in red wine and dark chocolate can revitalize old cells.
“This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life,” said lead researcher Lorna Harries. “Our data suggests that using chemicals to switch back on the major class of genes that are switched off as we age might provide a means to restore function to old cells.”
As we age, our skin tissues accumulate senescent cells. These cells are metabolically active but have lost the ability to replicate and to correctly regulate the output of their genes. Senescent cells also have fewer splicing factors, which help cells to effectively respond to challenges in their environment.
The researchers applied compounds called resveratrol analogues – chemicals based on a substance naturally found in red wine, dark chocolate, red grapes and blueberries – to cells in culture. The chemicals caused splicing factors, and the cells started to look younger and began replicating within hours.
“When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn’t believe it. These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic,” said co-author Dr.Eva Latorre. “I repeated the experiments several times and in each case the cells rejuvenated. I am very excited by the implications and potential for this research.”
The study, which is published in the journal BMJ Cell Biology, may lead to more effective anti-aging treatments. Professor Richard Faragher says that the discovery of cell rejuvenation shows “the enormous potential of aging research to improve the lives of older people.”
“At a time when our capacity to translate new knowledge about the mechanisms of aging into medicines and lifestyle advice is limited only by a chronic shortage of funds, older people are ill-served by self-indulgent science fiction. They need practical action to restore their health and they need it yesterday,” said Professor Faragher.