Science: Purging Old Cells Stops Aging Processes

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A new study featuring mice has found purging old cells may hold the key to longer, healthier lives. The Wall Street Journal has the story:

Reporter: "It's all to do with cells, right? And the way that cells get rid of junk —"
Shirley Wang: "That's right so it's not quite the immortality drug that we're looking for, but this is a new study in mice that suggests that if you clear out a certain kind of cell that ages — it stops dividing as it gets older — and if you can clear that out of the body it actually seems to delay or even prevent certain age related diseases like cataracts, age related muscle loss and even the subcutaneous fat that keeps us from getting wrinkles."

The Huffington Post explains how scientists came across such an amazing discovery:

"Scientists exposed genetically engineered mice to a drug that activates a molecule called caspase 8 that kills senescent cells... They found that there was a delay in the mice developing typical age-related conditions."

But, this approach may have its risks. TIME explains:

"Senescence is thought to have developed as protection against cancer, which is caused by cells that divide uncontrollably, so curbing that mechanism would be risky."

Even with its potential drawbacks, Bloomberg Businessweek reports scientists are still optimistic.

"The area is ripe for exploration by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. If researchers can find a drug that kills senescent cells, it may alter the way doctors approach diseases of the elderly."

Many see this discovery as a fundamental step forward. Aging researcher James Kirkland talks to Health Day and comments on why this is such a breakthrough:

"If you attack the fundamental aging process, can you attack age-related illnesses as a whole? Can you delay cancer, dementias, atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity and its complications as a group?"

But according to Daily Mail Online, one doctor says the findings need to be 'taken with a bit of caution' as it was just a preliminary study.

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