Novel therapy restores youthfulness in mice

JERUSALEM, Jan 2: Scientists claim to have identified a way clear away old, damaged cells and restore youthful characteristics in mice — paving the way for anti-ageing therapies and treatments of diseases linked to old age.
The research from Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel suggests that the dream of keep our bodies young, healthy and energetic, even as we attain the wisdom of our years could be at least partly obtainable in the future.
The research, published in Nature Communications, began with an investigation into the way that the immune system is involved in a crucial activity: clearing away old, senescent cells that spell trouble for the body when they hang around.
Senescent cells — not completely dead but suffering loss of function or irreparable damage — have been implicated in diseases of ageing by promoting inflammation.
The researchers used mice in which a crucial gene for this immune activity was missing. At two years — which is an elderly age for mice — the bodies had a greater accumulation of senescent cells compared with the those in which the gene for removing these cells was intact.
The mice missing the gene suffered from chronic inflammation, and various functions in their bodies appeared to be diminished. They also looked older — and died earlier — than their counterparts.
The researchers gave the mice a drug that inhibits the function of certain proteins that help the ageing cells survive in their senescent state, to see if this would contribute to the removal of these cells from the body.
The drugs were administered to mice whose ageing was a result of the malfunctions the group had uncovered in the immune system as well as those suffering premature ageing from a different genetic error.
The treated mice responded exceptionally well to the drug: Their blood tests and activity tests showed improvement, and their tissues appeared to be much closer to those of young mice.
The scientists counted senescent cells, finding many fewer of them remaining in the treated mice’s bodies; and when they looked for signs of inflammation, they found that this, too, was significantly lower. The mice treated with the drug were more active and their median lifespan rose.
The scientists intend to continue exploring ways to prompt the human body to remove its old senescent cells, particularly to find means of activating the immune system to do this job.
That is, if future experimentation proves their theories correct, they could end up creating truly “anti-ageing” therapies. (AGENCIES)


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