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Anti-ageing drug tested successfully on mice

Published on 04/11/2011

Researchers in the US have successfully halted three key symptoms of old age in mice, leading to hope that one day the quality of life can be improved in elderly humans.

The study, published in Nature, looked at mice which had been genetically modified to age far quicker than normal. These mice were then given a drug to kill particular types of cells, called senescent cells.

Senescent cells are retired cells which have stopped dividing. The immune system naturally clears these cells out of the body, but numbers build up over time. Consequently, these senescent cells are found in ageing tissues, and until now it wasn’t known if they were helpful or harmful.

Researchers looked at three symptoms of old age in the mice: the formation of cataracts, the wasting away of muscle tissue, and the loss of fat deposits under the skin. The onset of these symptoms were ‘dramatically delayed’ when mice were given the drug.

By ‘flushing out’ these retired cells, scientists believe their findings could have a big impact in care of the elderly.

Dr Jan van Deursen said: "We were very surprised by the very profound effect. I really think this is very significant."

The study raises the interesting prospect of slowing the signs of ageing in humans. However, experts say the  ‘fascinating’ results should be taken with a lot of caution.

There are hopes that one day scientists could develop a drug that targets senescent cells because of the unique proteins the cells make. Patients with private medical insurance often have access to new drugs and treatments not available on the NHS.

Whilst this particular drug is still a long way off, health conscious people should compare health insurance policies online now to make sure they are covered for breakthrough treatment in the future.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2011

Categories:  Medical
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