Epigenetics and ageing: a chemical rejuvenation approach

Jul 13, 2023

Researchers have identified that a loss of epigenetic information is a hallmark of eukaryotic ageing, which can be reversed. Previously, the induction of Yamanaka factors in mammals was shown to restore youthful DNA methylation patterns and tissue function. In this research, high-throughput cell-based assays were developed to screen for molecules that rejuvenate human cells without altering their genome. Six chemical cocktails were identified that, within a week, restored a youthful genome-wide transcript profile and reversed transcriptomic age. This suggests that age reversal can be achieved not only genetically but also chemically.


Key takeaways: Chemically induced reprogramming to reverse cellular aging


  • Chemical reversal of ageing: The research introduces a groundbreaking approach where chemical methods, rather than genetic interventions, can be used to reverse the signs of cellular ageing. This opens up new avenues for anti-ageing treatments that might be more accessible and versatile
  • Loss of epigenetic information: One of the primary indicators of ageing at the cellular level is the loss of epigenetic information. Epigenetics refers to changes in gene activity that don’t involve alterations to the underlying DNA sequence. Understanding this loss provides insights into the ageing process and offers potential targets for interventions
  • Six chemical cocktails: The study identified six specific chemical combinations that have the potential to rejuvenate human cells. These cocktails could be the foundation for future treatments or therapies aimed at reversing the effects of ageing
  • Rapid restoration of youthful DNA: Remarkably, these chemical cocktails were able to restore youthful DNA methylation patterns and transcript profiles in less than a week. DNA methylation is a process that regulates gene activity, and its patterns can change as we age. The ability to rapidly revert these patterns to a more youthful state is a significant breakthrough
  • Alternative to genetic methods: Previously, most age-reversal research focused on genetic methods, which involve altering the DNA or gene expression of cells. This study suggests that chemical methods can achieve similar, if not better, results without the need to alter the cell’s genetic makeup. This could mean safer and more widely applicable treatments in the future


Reference: Yang, J. et al. “Chemically Induced Reprogramming to Reverse Cellular Aging.” Aging (Albany NY), vol. 15, no. 7, 2023, pp. 5966-5989,