BERKELEY (CBS SF) – Researchers at UC Berkeley have tested a drug that rejuvenates aging brain and muscle tissue in mice, a discovery that could lead to better anti-aging treatments for humans.

According to a university statement, researchers at the Berkeley Stem Cell Center targeted TGF-beta1, a protein that is one of the main factors that makes a cell age. Researchers have found in previous studies that it depresses the ability of various types of stem cells to renew tissue.

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Testing older mice, the team inserted genetic blockers into their brains to knock down TGF-beta 1 activity. They found stem cells in the hippocampus acted “more youthful” and generated new nerve cells.

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Then, the researchers injected a drug that blocks the protein’s receptor into the blood of the old mice. Researchers said the drug renewed stem cell function in brain and muscle tissue.

“You can simultaneously improve tissue repair and maintenance repair in completely different organs, muscle and brain,” Berkeley Stem Cell Center researcher Irina Conboy said.

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Berkeley researchers stressed that this is the first step towards a therapy and that other biochemical factors regulate activity in adult stem cells.