Zombies are bad news. Especially if they’re the zombie cells in your body according to scientists at the Mayo Clinic. These cells, called senescent cells, are responsible for the health impairments that are often associated with aging, such as dementia and cataracts.
The key to longevity is to give the body a way to get rid of the cells – not simply because they become useless with age, but because by their presence in the body, they can cause the surrounding cells to not be as healthy as those cells would normally be.
In the body’s normal functionality, cells are supposed to divide, but senescent cells stop doing that and instead just sit in the body. The problem is that they don’t just sit quietly. They start trouble in the aging process by what they put out.
A substance called P16INK4A (found in the senescent cells) is a molecule that can create inflammation and destruction in normal cells. These cells are also responsible for suppressing tumors. When there is a mutation or the cells stop dividing, it can increase the risk of you getting certain cancers.
The body has a built-in defense mechanism that’s supposed to get rid of these zombie cells, but as we get up in years, the immune system can’t always do this job and so age-related problems then begin because of these cell activities.
These cells are forerunners that push aging in the body’s tissues. You’ll find these cells present in conditions such as arthritis and in build up in the arteries of the heart. The key to stopping these cells from damaging other cells and causing aging health problems is found in a scientific method of helping the body ditch the cells or rendering them ineffective against healthy ones.
Researchers have discovered that if they inject mice with a senescent cell created with a molecule that reacts to a drug designed to cause the cells to die, then it slows the aging process.
By giving the mice the drug, evidence shows that they didn’t have the same age-associated health problems that mice who were not given the drug developed. The mice in the study didn’t get cataracts, had better muscle tone and more energy.
The study offers hope that medicine can be created for humans that can stimulate the body into getting rid of the zombie cells and can stop the cells from damaging healthy ones. With this development, it appears that scientists may be able to help people age while keeping their health more intact.