TOKYO (Sputnik) – Japanese scientists have discovered a mechanism that allows people to get rid of the so-called senescent cells and thus halts the aging process, with the possibility of administering a drug that can trigger this mechanism in 5-10 years, professor Makoto Nakanishi of the Institute of Medical Science, the University of Tokyo, said.
The age-related weakening of the body’s functions is directly related to the fact that human organs accumulate cells triggering systemic inflammatory processes. One of the types of cells that provoke inflammation are the so-called senescent cells. US scientist Leonard Hayflick discovered senescent cells, or the aging process of cells, 60 years ago. He found out that cells can only divide a certain number of times, after which this process stops. Senescent cells lose their ability to divide, accumulate in the body and cause inflammation and aging.
The scientists found out that metabolic enzyme GLS1 is vital for a senescent cell. GLS1 enzyme allows to remove an acidic environment that accumulates in senescent cells and disrupt their main functions.
As such an inhibitor, the scientists decided to use a drug that already exists and is undergoing clinical trials as a drug for certain types of cancer, whose cell growth also depends on GLS1.
A team of researchers working with Nakanishi gave the GLS1 inhibitor to aging mice and managed to remove cells responsible for aging-related diseases. Improvements were seen in various organs of the mice.
Nakanishi believes that if the drug is proven to be safe and effective in removing senescent cells in humans, it will be possible to achieve an increase in life expectancy and a reduction in the gap between overall life expectancy and a healthy state of a person. Now this gap is about 10 years on average.