Scientists: We Can Destroy 'Aging Cells'

Study targeted mouse senescent cells, responsible for many aging effects
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2011 4:55 AM CDT
Scientists: We Can Destroy 'Aging Cells'
By eliminating senescent cells from mice, scientists say they've taken a major step in combating the harmful effects of aging.   (Shutterstock)

It's not the fountain of youth ... yet. But scientists think they have taken a major step toward staving off some of the conditions of aging by removing senescent cells—cells that have stopped dividing—from mice, reports the Wall Street Journal. In the study, rapidly aged mice were given a drug designed to destroy senescent cells, resulting in a "quite dramatic delay" in the development of many age-related diseases, muscle-wasting—and wrinkles.

While senescent cells comprise less than 5% of cells, even in the elderly, they produce harmful compounds that cause inflammation, thought to be the underlying cause of many age-related diseases, such as cataracts, arthritis, and dementia. But because senescent cells also spur the immune system and suppress cancers, scientists were not sure if their benefits outweighed their harmful qualities. "If you could clear senescent cells, you perhaps could treat age-related diseases as a group rather than individually," said the paper's lead author. You can check out the abstract of the original article in Nature. (More aging stories.)

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