Scientists may have found a way to reverse aging, or at least certain aspects of it, which can in turn extend life spans.
Aging is irreversible—or so we believed. Though aging is inevitable, there may be a way to reverse it for some time. With these new discoveries on how to reverse aging, scientists may be on track to find treatments against age-related diseases.
Many potentially debilitating diseases and health conditions come with age. Previously, scientists tried to address these problems by trying to fight the diseases themselves. However, if age is a very strong factor in the development of these diseases, then it may be best to address aging itself.
A Drug to Reverse Aging?
As we age, our cells accumulate damage that can shorten our life spans. Once cells reach a point beyond any possibility of repair, they may become cancerous or enter a state of senescence. Scientists used to think that senescent cells are harmless. Now, though, they think that these cells may negatively affect the performance of other healthier cells. These cells are also present in high concentration around arthritis-ridden joints, bad arteries, and cataracts.
Last year, scientists discovered that removing senescent cells in mice extended the mice's life spans by 20%. A newer, recent study, however, has found that the removal of senescent cells can reverse aging as well.
The researchers in this study used a drug that targeted senescent cells and essentially facilitated their death. The first three attempts were unsuccessful, but the fourth one was. Researchers tested the drug on two different kinds of mice: ones who were genetically engineered to age more quickly, and ones that were aged by chemotherapy. The researchers injected the mice with the drug three times a week for 10 months.
A lab technician noticed a visible change in the mice. These mice, who were balding, were suddenly growing their fur back. They also began to become more mobile and fit. Older mice were able to run twice as much as other, younger mice who did not receive the drug. The mice that received the drug also started to have healthier kidneys.
A Long Wait
There are no noticeable side effects as of yet. Then again, as the researchers themselves admit, “mice don't talk”. However, there seems to be no damage to the mice's tissues.
Of course, this experiment is just a step forward. There is still a need for more tests to see if the drug can indeed help humans reverse aging and live longer. The researchers plan on testing the drug on a number of people with Glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive brain tumor. However, it may be a long time still before this happens.
Long periods of testing is common in potentially groundbreaking treatments. A treatment that can reverse aging, therefore, only warrants careful and meticulous study. The researchers still need to fine-tune some things, like figuring out which patients the treatment is most appropriate for. However, though the wait may be long, the results may be worth waiting for.
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