Aging has long been an obsession of humanity’s. After all, it didn’t take us very long to figure out that we have only so much time alive, and the markers of time beginning to wear down on us were anything but subtle eventually. That’s why a thread of the quest for immortality has existed in some many cultures. We can even go back to one of the earliest preserved stories, Gilgamesh, to find that this idea of seeking immortality existed even back at the dawn of civilization. It is a human thing to not want to die and to want to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Despite all this, we’re still in the relative infancy of the science of aging. We understand various potential factors and are researching them, yes, but there are no clear answers. Aging is a complex process with many elusive features. One of them may be tied to cell senescence and finding a way to deal with this could be a path forward.
What Is Cell Senescence?
Senescence is the scientific way of saying that cells eventually stop dividing. Despite appearances, every part of our body is made up of cells. These cells live and die countless times over the course of our lifetimes. They divide to keep their line going and maintaining their position in the greater scheme that is the human body. Eventually, they hit the upper limit for the amount of divisions they can undergo and the last one is left simply sitting there and not dividing. It does the job it needs to do, but at the same time it isn’t renewing and replacing itself anymore. Wear and tear gradually build up and contribute to what we know as aging. These changes build throughout our cells as we age and while they remain active in our bodies they cease to function as well and may contribute to many of the issues we experience with age. This connection between cell senescence and age lead scientists to experiment with what would happen if you removed such cells.
The primary model used for this research was an animal one. Specifically, mice were used to test the removal of cells experiencing senescence for a clear idea of how it might affect an organism. The results were actually relatively interesting. Mice who underwent the treatment to remove such cells were noted to have a slightly increased lifespan by comparison to those peers that were not subjected to the treatment. Additionally, there was distinct evidence suggesting that their bodies began to repair damage and in general restore at least a slight sense of youth to their bodies after the treatment. What makes this study even more fascinating is that it is from decades ago. Scientists are beginning to look on the research as an avenue for potential research into a broader method of easing the course of aging for human subjects. They do not expect to have any solid treatment options anytime soon, but it is a method of moving forward in the study of a complex subject.
We’re not going to have any treatments in the near future, but this avenue of study did demonstrate clear results. Using an animal model doesn’t invalidate the results either. Mice are considered a fairly decent form of easy to track animal model with decent predictive results when it comes to humans. That means there may be a true way forward in the study of aging to be found while delving deeper into this research. Scientists following up on this information do wish to stress that removal is, ultimately, only part of the goal when it comes to countering cell senescence. They ultimately wish to remove the cells, yes, but they also wish to restart the body’s ability to replace those cells to continue the cycle properly. The end result would be the removal of potentially negative cells followed shortly by their replacement with brand new counterparts. While this wouldn’t be true regeneration, it could potentially hold the path towards longer lives and greater quality of life for the extent of those lives.
There is no point to rushing ahead of the science and proclaiming this research to be the future cure for aging. Too much of that happens constantly for it to be a good idea. What we can say is that the research appears solid and can be built upon moving forward. That is ultimately what we’re looking for from scientists studying aging. They are uncovering paths right now and those paths are what will eventually lead someone to a better way to manage aging.