Axing Molecular Zombies May Slow Aging Process, According To New Study
Cells that enter senescence and stop dividing, still remain in the body without any function, secreting aging related diseases molecules, according to a new study published online in the Science Magazine. Finding a way to eliminate these “dormant” cells may be the key of finding new anti-aging treatments as well as preventing many aging related diseases.
Latent cells act like as a poison source and kill everything around them, says James Kirkland, physiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. These senescent cells interfere with normal cells, and lead to pathological biological processes involved in the development of many aged related diseases such as cataracts, muscle mass loss, skin aging, cerebral degeneration, suggested Kirkland in Nature science journal.
After exposure to different mutagens like U.V rays for example, the cell DNA gets damaged and the cell reacts by entering a senescent state. This is a protective mechanism against DNA abnormalities perpetuation that can lead to different abnormalities of multiplication and cancer. The other key role is played by the immune system that recognises these senescent cells and tries to remove them as quick as possible.
Along with aging, the immune system weakens and fails to remove these cellular zombies. The result is body senescent cells buildup leading to harmful effects.
These senecent cells won’t divide but don’t die either. Senescent cells may be compared with walking dead, although they have a very active metabolism and the molecules secreted can severely damage and destroy other normal surrounding tissue.
Sensecent cells are not a new thing, as scientists discovered them nearly 60 years ago, but this study provides the first real proof that a link between senescence and aging exists.
The study conducted on mice, concentrated on a gene that is activated in cells that enter senescence but is not present in normal body cells. The scientists then tempered with a gene named P16ink4A, in a special bread of very fast aging mice, making the gene product to react with a certain drug that causes cellular death rather than senescence. The drug was then administered to some mice and their body manged to eliminate all dormant cells, presenting less aged-related diseases than mice that have not received the wonder drug. The conclusion of the study was that dormant cells can be linked to an increased ageing process and by removing them, a partial rejuvenation cure can be achieved.
Kirkland and his team haven’t found the secret of eternal life yet, but their discovery links for the first time senescent cells with the aging process. The next step, will probably be testing senescent cells effects on humans that age at a natural rate according to Kirkland