Humans beings were not initially built to live long past the age of fifty years old. Therefore, later in life, humans often have various health problems, including heart failure and cancer. However, another dent in the ever-raging battle against old age was made recently by a team of researchers in the Netherlands.
When somatic, or body, cells divide a certain number of times, they become older and far less serviceable to the people they inhabit. At this point, these ‘senescent cells’ are meant to die off. However, researchers have discovered a protein that latches onto the ‘p53’ proteins of some senescent cells, which are responsible for triggering apoptosis, a fancy word for cell suicide. Because of this, p53 is prevented from doing its job.
In response to this discovery, the researchers have developed a peptide that bonds to the p53 protein without impairing its function, allowing it to kill off unwanted senescent cells. They went on to inject their creation into a special subset of mice that age particularly quickly, and they found that the peptide reversed multiple signs of aging, including kidney degeneration, fur loss, and the decrease in general activity associated with old age. After this, they repeated their experiment on regular mice with similar results.
Of course, research is still in the preliminary stages, but the team is excited for the possibility of wide-reaching application for their peptide in the real world. They believe their optimal next step to be testing it against brain cancer, in order to observe its effectiveness at killing cancer cells in the same fashion as senescent cells, without harming any healthy cells in the area. If it proves to be effective, this treatment could usher in a new age in humanity’s fight against disease; an age in which people do not choose to forgo treatment because it makes them feel worse than their actual sickness, as so many do today. Be sure to keep your eyes on this development…it could save your life one day.