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REGENERATION

Along with Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, first

authors JunWu, Reyna Hernandez-Benitez, Keiichiro

Suzuki and colleagues discovered the ability to, for

the first time, insert DNA at a target location into the

nondividing cells that make up the majority of adult organs

and tissues. The technique, which the team showed was

able to partially restore visual responses in blind rodents,

will open new avenues for basic research and a variety of

treatments, such as for retinal, heart and neurological

diseases. Until now, techniques that modify DNA—such

as the CRISPR-Cas9 system—have been most effective

in dividing cells, such as those in skin or the gut, using

the cells’ normal copying mechanisms. The new Salk

technology, which they named HITI, is 10 times more

efficient than other methods at incorporating newDNA

into cultures of dividing cells, making it a promising tool

for both research and medicine. More importantly, HITI

represents the first time scientists have managed to insert

a new gene into a precise DNA location in adult cells that

no longer divide, offering new possibilities for therapeutic

applications in these cells.

Gene-editing technology partially

restores vision in blind animals

NATURE

11/2016

RESETTING NATURE’S

The science of healing and renewal

4 INSIDE SALK

SPRING 2017

WWW.SALK.EDU

Salk Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, along

with first authors Alejandro Ocampo, Paloma Martinez-

Redondo, Pradeep Reddy and colleagues, found that

intermittent expression of genes normally associated

with an embryonic state can reverse the hallmarks of old

age. Their approach, which not only prompted human

skin cells in a dish to look and behave young again, also

resulted in the rejuvenation of mice with a premature

aging disease, countering signs of aging and increasing

the animals’ lifespan by 30 percent. The early-stage work

provides insight both into the cellular drivers of aging as

well as possible therapeutic approaches for improving

human health and longevity. The Salk researchers believe

that induction of epigenetic changes via chemicals or small

molecules may be the most promising approach to achieve

rejuvenation in humans.

Turning back time: Salk scientists reverse

signs of aging

CELL

12/2016

AS SEEN IN

WATCH

http://www.salk.edu/insidesalk/0417/belmonte-2

READ

http://bit.ly/belmonte-aging

WATCH

http://www.salk.edu/ insidesalk/0417/belmonte-1