Eliminating so-called deadbeat cells, those that no longer divide, delayed signs of aging in a study in mice, opening the door for new research in people.
Cells stop being able to divide as they age, and instead begin producing chemicals that damage adjacent tissue and cause inflammation, the researchers said. In the young, the cells are flushed by a strong immune system. As people age, the ability to eliminate the cells diminishes, they said.
The study, published today in the Journal Nature, used mice that were genetically engineered with deadbeat cells that carry a molecule, called caspase 8. When the molecule is activated with drugs, it drills a hole in the cells and kills them, stopping the release of the damaging chemicals, according to scientists at the Mayo Clinic’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging, based in Rochester, Minnesota.
“By attacking these cells and what they produce, one day we may be able to break the link between aging mechanisms and predisposition to diseases like heart disease, stroke, cancers and dementia,” said James Kirkland, the center’s head and a co- author of the report, in a statement.
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