Imagine looking at two genetically identical mice that are the same age. One looks healthy, while the other has graying fur and a hunchback. The reason one looks much younger is that it has undergone a treatment that involved the removal of retired cells from its body. Scientists hope to develop this into a pill for humans.
Damage to a cell’s DNA could potentially transform once-healthy cells into cancerous tumors. When this happens, some cells repair the harm, but others self-destruct. A third category of cells enters into a state called senescence, which means they stop dividing and growing. When senescent cells build up with age, they have an adverse effect on wellness and can shorten lifespan as much as 35 percent in mice.
The immune system clears away senescent cells regularly, but the removal system becomes less efficient with aging. These pesky cells produce substances that harm the healthy cells surrounding them and cause inflammation, a problem linked to frailty and age-related diseases.
Removal of Senescent Cells Increased Lifespan Up to 35 Percent
In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers used a pharmaceutical compound to remove a portion of the senescent cells in mice and got amazing results. The animals looked healthier and had lower levels of inflammation. In addition, the normal deterioration of the heart, kidneys and fat tissue slowed; the formation of tumors was delayed; and their lifespan increased by 17 to 35 percent. No adverse effect of the treatment was noted.
“Senescent cells that accumulate with aging are largely bad, do bad things to your organs and tissues, and therefore shorten your life but also the healthy phase of your life,” says senior author Jan van Deursen, Ph.D., Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular biology at Mayo Clinic. “And since you can eliminate the cells without negative side effects, it seems like therapies that will mimic our findings — or our genetic model that we used to eliminate the cells — like drugs or other compounds that can eliminate senescent cells would be useful for therapies against age-related disabilities or diseases or conditions.”
If the compound used on the mice was given to humans, the large dose required would be toxic. However, scientists are working on a drug that harnesses the concept of removing cellular debris. The discovery is an important one in the field of longevity research.
I always look for a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals. This is strictly conjecture, but it seems reasonable to think that improving immune system functioning might result in at least some of the same effects of the proposed fountain-of-youth pill. Since the senescent cells that threaten health accumulate due to the inefficiency of the immune system that comes with age, any measure that boosts immunity would lead to greater removal of the cells. The natural health field offers an array of methods for enhancing this system.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.