Posted on Feb 25, 2019, 7 p.m.
An elixir of youth appears to have moved another step closer to being a reality after a breakthrough from UK scientists that targets harmful zombie cells which fuel inflammation and increase risks for a host of potentially fatal conditions, as published in the journal Genes and Development.
Senescence happens to all humans with age, and a Scottish team of researchers may have found a way to help control it. Wendy Bickmore of the University of Edinburgh says, “their findings provide a much clearer understanding of how senescence causes cellular damage.”
Senescence is believed to play vital roles in age related illnesses, developing a drug to combat it is considered to be on par in terms of the Holy Grail in anti-aging research efforts. Senescent cells are also referred to as zombie cells, as although they are alive they no longer have ability to divide; these non-functioning cells are linked to a variety of conditions ranging from arthritis to Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.
Most human cells reproduce a limited number of times which protects against cancer, as the more cells divide the greater the chance of accumulated errors and mutations. Cellular senescence helps keep cells, for the most part, free of cancer during the early stages of life, but with age these zombie cells accumulate and secrete inflammatory molecules which cause damage to neighboring tissues and cells that triggers illness.
According to the team their work focussed on harmful senescence associated secretory phenotype reactions, which are a cascade of chemical signals that can cause damage to cells through inflammation, and some of the damaging cell effects linked to aging may be stopped by manipulating tiny parts of the cell as alterations to the nuclear pores was observed to block the process; and they showed DNA had to be reorganized in space within cell’s nucleus in order for SASP to be triggered.
Findings may shed light on fundamental workings of the cell which may be instrumental in improving understandings of aging by providing valuable insight on how cells respond to damage and stress; as well as shed new light on a host of serious diseases which will hopefully advance and/or open new paths to explore to slow some of the harm stemming from senescence.
Senescence may be an essential self defence mechanism, but it can also be harmful at times, developing ways to targets these harmful effects may slow the process of aging and/or age related diseases.
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