A Better Overview of Senescent Cell Destruction Research

Here's a better overview of recent research that demonstrates the benefits of destroying senescent cells: "Baker exploited the fact that many senescent cells rely on a protein called p16-Ink4a. He created a genetic circuit that reacts to the presence of p16-Ink4a by manufacturing an executioner: a protein called caspase-8 that kills its host cell. Caspase-8 is like a pair of scissors - it comes in two halves that only work when they unite. Baker could link the two halves together using a specific drug. By sneaking the drug into a mouse's food, he activated the executioners, which only killed off the cells that have lots of p16-Ink4a. Only the senescent ones get the chop. Baker tested out this system in a special strain of genetically engineered mice that age very quickly. It worked. The senescent cells disappeared, and that substantially delayed the onset of muscle loss, cataracts, and fat loss. Typically, around half of these mice show signs of muscle loss by five months of age. Without their senescent cells, only a quarter of them showed the same signs at ten months. Their muscle fibres were larger, and they ran further on treadmills. Even old mice, whose bodies had started to decline, showed improvements. ... There's been a question of whether senescent cells are important, since they're only a small proportion of cells. Our work indicates that a small number of these cells can have a big impact."

Link: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/11/02/extending-healthy-life-by-getting-rid-of-retired-cells/

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