Friday, December 30, 2016

Removing certain cells may allow elderly people to regrow hair, run faster and live for longer

Scientists may be one step closer to achieving the 'fountain of youth' in humans.

A drug has previously been found to help elderly mice regrow their hair, run faster and live for longer. It works by removing cells in skin tissue that naturally accumulate as the rodents grow older.

But the senescent cells - which are unable to reproduce themselves and prevent tissue growth - are also found in humans.

Many recent studies have focused on removing senescent cells - which can have aging effects on the body. It is believed their long-term secretion of proteins keeps their neighboring cells in a permanent daze. This can cause organs to deteriorate as they won't be continually replaced.  

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, earlier this year found removing them helped older rodents live 25 per cent longer.

Although aging does appear to be able to be halted through drugs, it remains unclear if they can deter age-related diseases such as arthritis and dementia.

But Dr Peter de Keizer, from Erasmus University Medical Center, Netherlands, said more research is needed to find a perfect treatment method.

In a new article published in the journal Trends in Molecule Medicine, he said: 'When bringing in a defective car for repairs it is insufficient to remove the rust and broken parts; you also want to replace these.

A perfect anti-senescence therapy would not only clear senescent cells, but also kick-start tissue rejuvenation by stimulating differentiation of nearby stem cells.

'This may be complementary with, for instance, the exciting approaches recently made in the field of transient expression of stem cell factors.'

And despite anti-senescent drugs already being tested, none of them have yet to be deemed safe on humans.

This is because they have been found to target pathways expressed by non-senescent cells.

Dr de Keizer warned they play a role in the healing of wounds and eliminating them at the wrong time could increase the risk of skin infections.  

He said: 'I would also advise caution for claiming too much, too soon about the benefits of the fast-growing list of therapeutic compounds that are being discovered.

'That being said, these are clearly very exciting times, and I am confident we will find applicable anti-senescence treatments that can counteract age-related pathologies.'

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