Can Aging be Reversed in the Brain?

  • Speaker
  • Saul Villeda, Ph.D.Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy; Associate Director, Bakar Aging Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco
Date & Time

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Aging drives cognitive impairments in the adult brain. It is imperative to gain insight into what drives aging phenotypes in the brain to maintain and even restore functional integrity in the elderly.

In this lecture, Saul Villeda will talk about how he and others have shown that systemic manipulations — such as heterochronic parabiosis (in which a young and old circulatory system are joined) and administration of young blood plasma — can reverse age-related impairments in regenerative and synaptic processes. Such manipulations can also rescue cognitive faculties in the aged brain. More recently, his lab demonstrated that administration of exercise-induced blood factors can likewise partially reverse age-related loss of plasticity in the aged brain. Consequently, scientists can now consider reactivating latent plasticity dormant in the aged brain to rejuvenate regenerative, synaptic and cognitive functions late in life. His research program aims to elucidate cellular and molecular mechanisms that can be targeted to halt the aging process or promote rejuvenation in the old brain. Understanding how to reverse aging in the brain could enable us to sidestep the effects of aging that promote vulnerability to neurodegenerative diseases altogether, providing a unique therapeutic approach.

Registration is required for this free event.
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About the Speaker

Villeda is an assistant professor in the department of anatomy and endowed chair in biomedical science at the University of California, San Francisco. He also serves as associate director of the Bakar Aging Research Institute. He obtained his B.S. degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford University. Villeda has made the exciting discovery that the brain’s aging process can be reversed by altering levels of circulating factors in blood. This work challenges traditional views that the aged brain lacks the inherent ability necessary to combat the effects of aging, which results in permanent functional impairments. Villeda’s research is best known for using innovative heterochronic parabiosis and blood plasma administration approaches to investigate the influence that exposure to young blood has in promoting molecular and cellular changes underlying cognitive rejuvenation. His work has garnered accolades that include a National Institutes of Health Director’s Independence Award, the W.M. Keck Foundation Medical Research Award, and the Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging. His research has also captured the public’s attention, featured on television, radio and news outlets, such as CNN, BBC, NPR, The Guardian, and The New York Times.

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