To be a student in David Sinclair’s Harvard University lab is to be a time traveler. The genetics professor has dedicated his career to understanding the processes that define getting older, and more recently, how to use that understanding to turn back a cell’s inner clock.
Last month, a team of biologists led by Sinclair’s lab published a new model to explain how aging works — and might be reversed — based on the results of their 13-year study of mice. Through painstaking experiments, they identified the epigenome — chemical modifications to DNA that flip genes on or off — as the primary driver of the aging process. And using a technology known as partial reprogramming, the scientists rebooted old animals’ epigenetic code to restore them to a youthful state.