A team of scientists at the University of Exeter, UK, have discovered a breakthrough which could be the basis for reversing the effects of ageing.
To help find a way to reverse the effects of ageing, researchers tested compounds and found that the number of senescent cells (older cells that have deteriorated and stopped dividing) was reduced by up to 50%.
The findings raise the possibility of future treatments not only for blood vessels – which become stiffer as they age, therefore raising the risk of problems including heart attacks and strokes – but also for other cells.
Breakthrough: a new generation of reversing the effects of ageing
“We used to think age-related diseases like cancer, dementia and diabetes each had a unique cause, but they actually track back to one or two common mechanisms,” says Professor Lorna Harries, of the University of Exeter Medical School.
“This research focuses on one of these mechanisms, and the findings with our compounds have potentially opened up the way for new therapeutic approaches in the future.
“This may well be the basis for a new generation of anti-degenerative drugs.”
Helping people stay healthier for longer
Harries further explains how the goal was to essentially help people stay healthier for longer. She says that rather than extending lifespan, the research is essentially about health span and quality of life.
“Nearly half of the aged cells we tested showed signs of rejuvenating into young cell models.” she adds.
Researchers tested three different compounds, with the findings showing each produced a 40-50% drop in the number of senescent blood vessel cells.
The compounds in question – AP39, AP123 and RT01 – have been designed by the Exeter team to selectively deliver minute quantities of the gas hydrogen sulfide to the mitochondria in cells and help the old or damaged cells to generate the ‘energy’ needed for survival and to reduce senescence.
Keeping mitochondria healthy is key
Professor Matt Whiteman, also from the University of Exeter, concludes: “Many disease states can essentially be viewed as accelerated ageing, and keeping mitochondria healthy helps either prevent or, in many cases using animal models, reverse this.
“Our current study shows that splicing factors play a key role in determining how our compounds work.”