What's the Latest Development?
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota have taken a step toward eradicating age-related disease by better understanding how it develops. Scientists have long thought that senescent cells, which due to aging will no longer divide, cause age-related illness by simply failing to replenish tissue. But after studying a group of aging mice, and eliminating their senescent cells, scientists saw a decrease in age related illness. They now believe that senescent cells may secrete a poison which affects the healthy cells around them.
What's the Big Idea?
The experiment is being hailed as a major step forward in our understanding of the aging process. Previously it was not well understood why some diseases, like cataracts and muscle loss, naturally accompany aging. Researchers believe that if senescent cells can be removed from humans, the way they were in mice, age-related illness could be greatly reduced. As for whether removing senescent cells would prolong life, it is impossible to say. The mice in the experiment were modified to age rapidly and therefore died early from other causes.