Samuel Skoda

Project Title: Designing synthetic transcription factors for cellular rejuvenation

Aging is the major risk factor of chronic diseases that account for most of human mortality and morbidity in the developed world. Research has identified 9 principal hallmarks of aging, all of which manifest on the cellular level. Recently, transient cellular reprogramming allowed to rejuvenate human cells by re-establishing their youthful gene expression.

In this method, scientists transiently activate several transcription factors that are involved in turning adult cells into stem cells. This makes treated cells appear younger, however with the risk of turning small proportion into stem cells and thus increasing cancer risk in-vivo. Therefore, in this project, I aim to develop a safer version of better controlled reprogramming factors in order to bring this technology closer to clinical application.

In my project, I will examine which parts of the transcription factor proteins cause partial rejuvenation and delete the unnecessary parts that turn cells into stem cells. I will then test if these new mutated transcription factors rejuvenate mouse and human cells more safely and measure their rejuvenated biological age with a newly developed epigenetic clock. Ultimately, my goal is to create a safer version of rejuvenation factors that can be applied to reverse aging and restore cellular function.


Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Biological Science - Molecular

University: University of Edinburgh

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