Old mice live 109% longer and stronger with OSK

New research from a Harvard-backed startup

Harvard genetics professor George Church, one of the co-founders of Rejuvenate Bio

What's the news: Old wild mice live longer and stronger with OSK reprogramming.

Why should we believe it: This news is based on a new study published earlier this month by scientists at Rejuvenate Bio, a startup spun off from Harvard's Wyss Lab.

The scientists treated 124-week-old mice (equivalent to 77-year-old humans) with OSK. That's a treatment made up of 3 of the 4 rejuvenating Yamanaka factors that won the 2006 Nobel Prize. Results:

  • Treated mice lived 109% longer than control mice (142 weeks vs. 133 weeks)

  • Treated mice showed "significant improvement in frailty scores"

Why this is a big deal: OSK has already been shown to be a powerful rejuvenating intervention. But it was previously used with genetically modified mice, and with younger mice. This study shows significant results in wild mice, and in mice that had already accumulated a lot of mileage.

So what's next: Rejuvenate Bio recently signed a partnership to develop a "one-shot" gene therapy for dog osteoarthritis. That therapy uses a different technology than the one described in this study.

With this proof of concept of OSK in old wild mice, a trial in dogs seems like a likely next step. And beyond that? Let's hope for similar results in humans soon.