Nov 03, 2011 3:27 PM GMT
Scientists may have found a way to put off some conditions of aging, according to a study in which they postponed or even prevented such afflictions as cataracts and wrinkle-inducing fat loss in mice by removing cells that had stopped dividing.
Most young, healthy cells divide continuously in order to keep body tissues and organs functioning properly, but eventually stop splitting—a state called senescence—and are replaced by others. Senescence occurs throughout life, but people's ability to clear such cells from their bodies decreases with age, leading to a buildup.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., found for the first time that by using a drug to target and kill senescent cells, they could essentially freeze some aspects of the aging process.
Though the research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, is in its very early stages, it suggests that senescent-cell clearance could be one path to staying healthy while aging.
"If you could clear senescent cells, you perhaps could treat age-related diseases as a group rather than individually," said Jan van Deursen, senior author of the paper and a professor in the departments of biochemistry and pediatric and adolescent medicine at Mayo.