Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Chinese Academy of Science have made a discovery that could offer new understanding about the aging process—and possible treatment. The results of their findings are published in Science.

The breakthrough occurred during the researchers’ study of Werner syndrome, a rare disease that causes premature aging.

Normally, proteins envelope DNA to create chromatin which are organized into bundles called heterochromatin. However, in this study, scientists noted that WRN, a protein that keeps heterochromatin organized and in place, becomes disorganized and less likely to divide or repair itself in people with Werner syndrome. A similar process was observed among healthy people as they age.

Preliminary lab experiments show that it may be possible to halt and possibly reverse this break down in heterochromatin, and pave the way for treatments of Werner syndrome, as well as Alzheimer’s, cancer and even the aging process in general.

For more information about this exciting scientific advance, visit this link.

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