Medical

Anti-aging discovery reveals importance of immune system in clearing old cells

New research suggests improving the immune system's ability to remove damaged, senescent cells could enable new anti-aging therapies
New research suggests improving the immune system's ability to remove damaged, senescent cells could enable new anti-aging therapies
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The blue staining shows senescent cells in lung and liver tissue. The amount of the staining is significantly reduced following the drug treatment
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The blue staining shows senescent cells in lung and liver tissue. The amount of the staining is significantly reduced following the drug treatment
New research suggests improving the immune system's ability to remove damaged, senescent cells could enable new anti-aging therapies
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New research suggests improving the immune system's ability to remove damaged, senescent cells could enable new anti-aging therapies

A compelling study from the Weizmann Institute of Science has revealed a new anti-aging strategy designed to help the immune system remove old and dysfunctional cells from the body. The initial animal experiments promisingly restored youthful characteristics in old mice, suggesting improving immune system surveillance may be an effective anti-aging therapy.

Senescent cells have long been an important research target for scientists investigating human aging. As we get older more and more of our cells become senescent, meaning they no longer replicate yet still remain metabolically active. A great deal of age-related and inflammatory diseases are implicated in the accumulation of senescent cells.

Some researchers are working on ways to reverse the process of cellular senescence, effectively making these older cells behave as if they are young again. Other researchers are investigating exactly how the body clears senescent cells from its system, and why the efficacy of this process decreases with age.

The new Weizmann research first set out to better understand the role our immune system plays in removing senescent cells from the body. The study discovered that a protein called perforin plays a fundamental role in immune surveillance, especially in relation to the clearance of senescent cells. In a mouse model with a silenced perforin gene it was observed that the animals suffered from an increased accumulation of senescent cells and faster rate of age-related disease.

The blue staining shows senescent cells in lung and liver tissue. The amount of the staining is significantly reduced following the drug treatment
The blue staining shows senescent cells in lung and liver tissue. The amount of the staining is significantly reduced following the drug treatment

The research then administered these perforin-diminished animals with a newly developed drug called ABT-737, which has previously been found to enhance clearance of senescent cells in both laboratory and animal experiments. The animals treated with the experimental drug displayed physical and behavioral improvements resembling younger healthy mice.

All this suggests that the immune system plays an important role in clearing senescent cells from the body and an age-related decline in immune system function may be a vital part of many basic age-related pathological symptoms in lifespan and health span. Unfortunately, the specific drug used in these experiments, ABT-737, is not transferable to safe human uses.

The drug was originally developed as a cancer treatment and was designed to inhibit specific proteins that block cellular death. Some cancers are known to use these particular proteins as a way of hiding from the body's immune system. Unfortunately, early human clinical trials revealed that, while the drug did show promising anti-cancer potential, it also had terrible side effects, producing a condition called thrombocytopenia in which the levels of platelets in blood are lowered.

So, although this drug treatment may not be the anti-aging breakthrough many are waiting for, the underlying discovery suggests improving the immune system's ability to remove senescent cells could be an effective youth-restoring therapy.

The new study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: Weizmann Institute of Science

6 comments
Daishi
This is going to go a bit like milking additional performance out of an automobile. You increase the displacement and realize you consume more fuel. You increase displacement and fuel and realize that the transmission isn't rated for twice the factory HP.
Fritz
proofs the concept of: WORK HARD, PLAY HARD
Nobody
I am getting tired of reading about all these new breakthroughs and discoveries which seem to be going nowhere. Either the problems are much larger and more complex than we can imagine or they are doing a poor job of utilizing the knowledge that we have. I read an interesting statistic a couple years ago. It stated that with all our new drugs and medical techniques the average life expectancy for a 60 year old is now only four years longer than it was in 1940. Another interesting statistic is that of the top three causes of death, preventable medical mistakes is number two and may be number one if they were all reported.
DavidIngram
So, this will work but it kills you?
EZ
It's interesting that the opposite approach also works. The use of certain plant compounds can clean up and restore nascent cells. Resveratrol and pterostilbene. Look them up on giggle scholar.
Disruptor61
Or you could just try fasting to obtain the same or better benefits for nothing instead of paying the pharmaceutical industry for something that may not work and may cause horrible side effects. Fasting puts the body into autophagy where it breaks down old, broken, and dead cells for the material to make new cells. It significantly enhances stem cell production so that some old cells can be very quickly replaced by new cells from their number. It has a number of other benefits as well that I don't remember now, but the research has been done. Just google long term fasting and intermittent fasting to discover the benefits of both.
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