Biotech breakthrough slows ageing process in mice by 35pc

4 Feb 2016

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic may have made a breakthrough that could one day expand our lifespan by as much as 35pc by targeting and removing particular cells.

While research into slowing the ageing process is arguably a fight against the inevitable, this new research could also play a greater part in helping prevent the development of cancerous tumours.

According to the clinic, the researchers work, published in Nature, has shown that a type of cell, called a senescent cell, is the one to have the most negative impact on a person’s lifespan as they  divide and accumulate during the ageing process.

In a healthy young adult, the immune system is able to purge the body of these senescent cells quite regularly, but as the body gets older, it becomes less and less effective.

Once the senescent cells begin multiplying in number, the other cells nearby are detrimentally affected and damaged, leading to typical conditions in ageing such as chronic inflammation.

To test whether they could limit the effect of senescent cells on the body, the researchers developed a compound called AP20187, which, when placed into lab mice, would target the harmful cells and eliminate them.

From their findings, tumours and age-related consequences of the cells showed reasonable effectiveness to the point that it increased the mice’s lifespan by 17pc to 35pc.

While it would be some time before any attempts would be made at trialling senescent cell removal on humans, the study’s first author, Dr Darren Baker, says it has literal ‘life-changing’ potential.

“The advantage of targeting senescent cells is that clearance of just 60 to 70pc can have significant therapeutic effects.

“If translatable, because senescent cells do not proliferate rapidly, a drug could efficiently and quickly eliminate enough of them to have profound impacts on health-span and lifespan.”

Mouse image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic