Health & Wellbeing

Anti-aging breakthrough could extend healthspan by making old cells young again

Anti-aging breakthrough could ...
A new study reveals a novel technique that can make old cells act young and could help extend a person's healthspan
A new study reveals a novel technique that can make old cells act young and could help extend a person's healthspan
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A new study reveals a novel technique that can make old cells act young and could help extend a person's healthspan
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A new study reveals a novel technique that can make old cells act young and could help extend a person's healthspan

Rather than just focusing on increasing lifespan, one field of anti-aging research is concerned with extending healthspan – the stretch of our life we spend healthy. After all, there's no point living past 100 if we spend those last few decades suffering from degenerative conditions. A team of scientists recently made a fascinating breakthrough in the quest for extended healthspan by finding a way to rejuvenate old cells and make them look and act like younger cells.

Many anti-aging scientists have been targeting their research at senescent cells. These are old cells that have stopped dividing and can be the cause of many age-related diseases. Although generally cleared out of the body by the immune system, these senescent cells tend to accumulate as we get older and our immune clearing mechanism becomes ineffective.

Senolytics are a new class of drugs designed to clear these senescent cells from the body and recent animal studies have been proving tantalizingly successful in extending healthspan. This latest study from scientists at the Universities of Exeter and Brighton takes a different approach to the problem. Instead of clearing these senescent cells out of the body, the team has found a way to rejuvenate them, making them behave like young cells again.

"This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life," says team leader Professor Lorna Harries. "Our data suggests that using chemicals to switch back on the major class of genes that are switched off as we age might provide a means to restore function to old cells."

The key to this new treatment are compounds called resveratrol analogs. Resveratrol is a compound found naturally in dark chocolate, blueberries and, most prominently, red wine. The health benefits of resveratrol are not entirely clear despite receiving a decent amount of scientific attention over the past couple of decades.

This new study set out to engineer a novel compound based on resveratrol and then examine its effects on living human cells in a laboratory. The results have been encouraging. Within hours of the senescent cells being treated with the resveratrol analogs they started to display more splicing factors – proteins that engage the activity of the cells. The cells also expressed longer telomeres, which are known to get shorter as a person ages.

"When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn't believe it," says Eva Latorre, one of the researchers working on the project. "These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic. I repeated the experiments several times and in each case the cells rejuvenated. I am very excited by the implications and potential for this research."

The research is still in its early stages but it suggests an entirely new avenue for drug treatments that can battle the onslaught of degenerative aging-related diseases and help increase the healthspan of senior citizens.

The research was published in the journal BMC Cell Biology.

Source: University of Exeter

6 comments
tacheonabike
that's one glass of dark chocolate blueberry wine please
guzmanchinky
All these amazing breakthroughs, right as I'm 47 years old, should come into fruition just in time for me... :)
wolfdoctor
I'm 65. Hurry up.
Brandon200
Any miracle drug, that reverses aging like "magic" is suspicious. In addition, they affirm that they do not know how reservatrol or these analogs work. Not buying it ... will be on the lookout for an IPO soon.
bothib
Being as I have recently passed my 85th birthday, and being as how this world is so &$(%ed up, I don't think it will be of any benefit to me ... and I don't care.
Logicsaurus
Been hearing this same story for decades. Reminds me of pretty much every story on "New Scientist"... it has a catchy headline, and when you get to the end of the story, you find out it's as real as golden goose eggs.