Does Aging Have a Reset Button?

Part of Vittorio Sebastiano’s job is to babysit a few million stem cells. The research professor of reproductive biology at Stanford University keeps the cells warm and moist deep inside the Lorry I. Lokey Stem Cell Research Building, one of the nation’s largest stem cell facilities. He’s joined there by an army of researchers, each with their own goals. His own research program is nothing if not ambitious: He wants to reverse aging in humans.

Stem cells are the Gary Oldman of cell types. They can reprogram themselves to carry out the function of virtually any other type of cell, and play a vital role in early development. This functional reprogramming is usually accompanied by an age reset, down to zero. Sebastiano figures that if he can separate these different kinds of reprogramming, he can open up a whole new kind of aging therapy. Nautilus caught up with him last month.

What impact will your work have on aging research?

I’m studying whether we can

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus8 min read
Lessons For A Young Scientist: A masterclass on what science needs now.
I sometimes worry that many who would enjoy a scientific career are put off by a narrow and outdated conception of what’s involved. The word “scientist” still conjures up an unworldly image of an Einstein lookalike (male and elderly) or else a youthf
Nautilus7 min read
The Climate Learning Tree: Why we need to branch out to solve global warming.
As a paleoclimatologist, I often find myself wondering why more people aren’t listening to the warnings, the data, the messages of climate woes—it’s not just a storm on the horizon, it’s here, knocking on the front door. In fact, it’s not even the fr
Nautilus6 min read
Biodiversity Alters Strategies of Bacterial Evolution
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. In the closing paragraph of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin urged readers to “contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the b