Brain aging results in cognitive decline and is the major cause of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, vascular dementia and stroke. My research team discovered that circulatory factors in blood from young mice or humans are capable of reversing aspects of brain aging in aged mice at the molecular, cellular, physiological and functional level. These seminal discoveries, which are being commercialized and tested in a number of phase 2 clinical trials, opened a fascinating series of questions we are currently pursuing in our project, Brain Rejuvenation Factors From Blood ― e.g., What is the identity of blood-borne rejuvenating factors? Where do they come from? How do they enter the brain and communicate with it? What is the genetic basis of brain rejuvenation? How does the brain age in the first place? We are studying these questions by employing a combination of genetic, cell biology, and -omics approaches in killifish, mice and humans, and through the development of bioorthogonal tools for the in vivo labeling of proteins. The potential to tackle and answer these questions promises to usher in a new era in aging and dementia research, which may “disrupt” our approach to treating neurodegenerative diseases.
D. H. Chen Professor II