Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Recharging Stem Cells

PostedJuly 6, 2008

Download File (mp3)

Randy Atkins:  When you work out, your muscles break down and are re-built by stem cells.  Irina Conboy, a University of California bioengineer, says such repair can't keep up in old age.

Irina Conboy:  So when we are young, there is "no pain no gain."  And when we are old, there is lots of pain, and still no gain.

Randy Atkins:  The same thing happens as other body parts age.  Conboy found the stem cells don't disappear or wear out, but biochemical signals turn them off as we get old.  In mice, she was able to re-flip that swich and re-generate muscle.  It offers the tantalizing hope of slowing the aging process.

Irina Conboy:  You do not know if it will simply be healthier aging, without diseases, or it will actually prolong life.

Randy Atkins:  And it might also cause negative side effects.  The answers will require much more work.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103.5 FM, WTOP Radio.