History tells us that famed explorers like Ponce de Leo have been searching for ways to cheat death and identify a possible “Fountain of Youth” as a secret to longevity and everlasting life for centuries. But this is mostly conjecture and a big myth. Historians have found that not only did Ponce de Leon land at a place he wasn’t originally searching for (much like Christopher Columbus), he wasn’t even seeking these fabled waters in the first place. Ironic, isn’t it?
Thankfully today’s scientists are realistically seeking real-life solutions to conquer the inevitability of aging and are attempting to find ways to stop or even reverse this seemingly unstoppable process. Breakthroughs are occurring literally as we speak and science is becoming one step closer to solving this age-old (pardon the pun) problem.
The Sensational Senescent Cell Solution
Cell biologists working in Rotterdam, in The Netherlands, have identified a molecule that attacks and destroys frail and damaged cells that are responsible for the aging process. They’re known as senescent cells and they also contribute to the growth and spread of many different types of deadly and degenerative diseases.
As we continue to age, these senescent cells build up in our bodies, specifically inside our tissues, muscles and bones. Researchers are finding they contribute to arthritis, diabetes and heart disease just to mention a few conditions. In the past, scientists have been able to genetically modify rodents to destroy these cells on their own. During testing, absent these senescent cells with a genetic mutation, these furry, little test subjects were found with less plaque buildup in their arteries and they lived much longer lives compared to others. Unfortunately, these types of genetic alterations aren’t practical for use on humans.
From Mice To Men
After identifying these tiny warriors attacking senescent cells, scientists found compounds called senolytics that destroy the damaging cells in question. These same scientists have isolated and identified seven of these different compounds and two of them are being used in clinical trials with patients suffering from irreversible forms of kidney disease with more testing planned in the future with different diseases and conditions.
“It’s definitely a landmark advancement in the field,” according to a renowned cell and molecular biologist Francis Rodier of the University of Montreal in Canada. Although he wasn’t associated with the Netherlands study itself, he still offers, “This is the first time that somebody has shown that you can get rid of senescent cells without having any obvious side effects.”
Mostly Good News and a Little Bad News
That’s really great news, but more information sheds some negative light on this complicated subject. These senolytic compounds are sometimes found in cancer treatment drugs and side effects include the possible destruction of healthy cells during their destructive journey or they can drop the number of healthy platelets found in the blood stream. But scientists are still optimistic with continued testing and advancements found along the way.
To counteract negative effects of these cell-killing compounds, scientists strived to develop an additional molecule that (without getting into all the scientific mumbo-jumbo involved) prohibits the senolytic compounds from attacking healthy cells and at the same time, causes the damaging senescent cells to commit a form of medically induced suicide or die off by themselves.
A New Molecule With Alternative Uses
Scientists used their newly discovered concoction in further testing during experiments when they injected this molecular substance into a strain of mutant mice that aged and died quicker compared to their neighboring, regular rodents. These little test subjects only live about half as long as normal and signs of their quicker demise included a loss of fur, a lack of mobility and failing kidneys beginning at around the age of six months.
Injecting this new molecule called peptide into these mice with a shorter life-span showed significant improvement when it came to these rodents being more mobile, exploring their surroundings, reversing kidney failure and a regrowth of hair. Think about it, even things like thinning hair and baldness could become a distant memory when it comes to these signs of aging and appearing healthier.
Staying Current, Active, Healthy and Alive
While these scientific experiments may seem like they’re still in their infancy, don’t discount their validity and the rapid growth of technology using these types of research and testing. Just a few years ago, researchers at Harvard were looking at similar studies replacing aging blood cells with newer plasma treatments. While these results may seem archaic now, each and every new discovery opens up new doors and challenges researchers to look even further at better options for their future endeavors.
In the meantime, as future residents of the planet earth trying to combat aging, while we are awaiting science to evolve, we can still do our best to protect ourselves from the seemingly inevitable instances of growing older. Think about these short-term and long-term investments into the greater good, i.e. our continued health and welfare:
- Keep living a healthy lifestyle when it comes to eating right, getting plenty of exercise and watch for these types of posts that could protect and improve longevity.
- Avoid obvious detriments to your health like excessive use of caffeine, sugar consumption, addictions to tobacco, alcohol and other substances that are well-known to shorten life expectancy
- Consider critical illness insurance that will protect you from out-of-pocket expenses if you become a part of a clinical study that could save or prolong your life
- If you happen to have a possible life-threatening illness, disease or condition, keep a diary along with your doctor’s care that could prove invaluable and contribute to these types of studies
In many instances, often too many to count, science fiction is becoming science fact. Researchers, biologists, scientists and medical professionals are all working together to end deadly diseases like heart disease and cancer. The least we can do is offer our assistance in the process and help with the progression of these important findings. One of us could easily be the key to unlocking a process to save our own life or the lives of others.