Nature has some kind surprises up its sleeve, and this is one of them.
Growing older comes with many challenges. Your skin wrinkles, your muscles sag, your back might ache and your memory could be presenting you with challenges.
But one thing actually seems to be working against time: your ability to scar.
Research done by a team at the University of Pennsylvania has found that the older you are, the better your skin is at regenerating itself when wounded.
“Many dermatologists and plastic surgeons have observed that older people heal their surgical wounds with thinner scars, but why and how this occurs is not well understood,” says the study’s senior author Thomas H Leung.
Researchers conducted studies on mice in their work. They found that by blocking the functioning of a certain protein, they could stop a certain gene from being activated that triggers skin regeneration.
But why? Why has nature made the elderly better at healing without any sign of strife?
Leung thinks it has to do with practicalities. Skin regeneration, like great wine, takes time. In total, it takes about a month for your body to complete. Scarring on the other, can be done in a handful of days.
“As a young animal, one would want an injury to heal as quickly as possible to live to fight another day, so you will tolerate imperfect healing for a faster response,” says Leung.
Researchers are hoping to use the information to build a drug called plerixafor that would prevent scarring in humans. The beauty industry would no doubt love to get their hands on it.
Medical experts are happy that it may be beneficial in treating things like the genetic disease epidermolysis bullosa, an extremely debilitating blistering disease, and badly burned skin. Here’s to discoveries!
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