Removing Old Cells Could Extend Human Life


Credit: Charles Shapiro,

Removing Old Cells Could Extend Human Life

The oldِ adage Out withِ theِ oldِ andِ in withِ theِ newِ couldِ help prevent age-related diseases ifِ applied toِ certainِ cells, newِ research onِ mice suggests.
By removing theِ body’s worn-out cells, called senescent cells, severalِ times duringِ the lifetime ofِ aging-accelerated mice, researchers wereِ able toِ spare theِ mice ofِ cataracts, aging skin andِ muscle loss.
We started treating animals whenِ theyِ were reallyِ young, beforeِ they started toِ establish theseِ senescent cells, study researcher Darren Baker, ofِ the Mayo Clinic College ofِ Medicine inِ Minnesota, told LiveScience.

Senescent cells

These cells wereِ onceِ important contributors toِ theirِ cellular community.
Eventually cells getِ old andِ start showing signs ofِ wear andِ tear thatِ couldِ lead toِ cancer, soِ the body essentially turns themِ off.
When cells getِ turned offِ inِ mammals (including humans andِ mice), theyِ canِ take oneِ ofِ two paths, eitherِ dying offِ or sticking aroundِ in a senescent state.

Out with the old

In theِ newِ study, theِ team bred mice toِ age quickly, gettingِ cataracts, weakened muscles andِ loss ofِ fat deposits byِ the time theyِ areِ 10 months old, whenِ theyِ die ofِ heart disease.
At theِ mice’s 3-week birthdays, theِ researchers treated themِ with a drug thatِ would causeِ their senescent cells toِ commit suicide, andِ they repeated thisِ treatment everyِ three days.
Compared withِ theِ untreated mice thatِ keptِ allِ their senescent cells, theseِ drug-treated mice hadِ stronger muscles, fewerِ cataracts andِ less wrinkled skin (because theirِ fat deposits inِ their skin wereِ inِ betterِ shape).

Healthy aging

The mice stillِ hadِ other age-related signs andِ didn’t haveِ anِ extended lifetime; basically, theِ drug extended theِ proportion ofِ healthy time inِ their lives.
The researchers saidِ they believeِ death (and theseِ otherِ aging diseases) isِ caused throughِ differentِ pathways thatِ aren’t affected byِ these senescent cells.
The senescent cell-clearing technique couldn’tِ beِ used onِ humans, sinceِ itِ would require inserting a special gene intoِ human embryos, asِ was doneِ with mice embryos.