Japanese scientists have figured out how to stop the aging process
Source: RIA News
The use of a drug that stops the aging process and rejuvenates the body can begin in five to ten years: Japanese scientists have discovered a mechanism by which it is possible to get rid of the so-called aging cells, and have selected an effective medicine for this. On the results of experiments and the prospects for discovery RIA News said Makoto Nakanishi, professor at the Institute of Medicine of the University of Tokyo.
Age-related weakening of the body's functions is directly related to the fact that cells accumulate in the organs that trigger systemic inflammatory processes. One of the types of cells that provoke inflammation are the so-called senescent (senescent) cells. The discovery of aging cells, or the aging process of cells, was made by the American scientist Leonard Hayflick 60 years ago. He found that cells can only divide a certain number of times, after which this process stops. Recent studies have shown that the division process can also stop as a result of DNA damage, oxidative stress and other factors. Senescent cells lose their ability to divide, accumulate in the body, cause inflammation and aging.
“That is, if you remove these cells, then it will be possible to stop the inflammatory processes provoked by them, and therefore - to achieve a significant improvement in the symptoms of aging. In 2014, we began to study how these cells can no longer multiply and turn into senescent cells, and identified the molecular mechanism. Then we “aged” the cell - we created a cell with properties common to all aging cells. And they began to look for something that would kill only these cells, ”explained Professor Makoto Nakanishi.
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Scientists have found that the GLS1 enzyme is vital for the aging cell. It is closely related to the process of glutamine metabolism. It turned out that the aging cell needs this enzyme to survive. This is due to the fact that the “factories” for the destruction of unnecessary proteins - lysosomes - in the aging cell stop working, and the acidic medium filling them penetrates into the cell, thereby creating a threat to its existence. To survive and neutralize the acidic environment, the cell needs ammonia, which is obtained when glutamine is converted to glutamic acid, that is, in a process that requires the GLS1 enzyme.
“Not only old cells, but any other cells where the protein cannot be broken down and eliminated becomes inflammatory cells. And all of them depend on GLS1, an enzyme that converts glutamine to glutamic acid, for survival. Therefore, if we use its inhibitor (inhibitory substance), then we can destroy all cells that provoke inflammation, including senescent cells. As we already said, if aging cells that provoke inflammatory processes accumulate in organs with age, then the phenomenon of aging occurs. This means that if these cells are removed, then, perhaps, the process will improve, ”the scientist said.
As such an inhibitor, they decided to use a drug that already exists and is undergoing clinical trials as a drug for certain types of cancer, whose cell growth also depends on GLS1. An old mouse was injected with this drug, which inhibits the action of the GLS1 enzyme. As a result, changes began to occur in a number of symptoms of senile diseases.
The kidneys began to function better in the mouse: the serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen levels improved. The changes were noticeable in the liver and lungs.
“There has been a dramatic improvement in organs and structures that have undergone age-related changes. After the injection, we saw an improvement in the symptoms of diabetic disease and atherosclerosis. The accumulation of aging cells that provoke inflammation is also caused by such age-related ailments as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. We are now investigating whether these diseases can be improved as well. By destroying the cells that provoke inflammatory processes, it will be possible to alleviate many age-related diseases and age-related weakening of the functions of various organs. One drug can achieve an improvement in many types of age-related diseases at once and achieve rejuvenation. We ourselves are very surprised, we consider it extremely interesting, ”the professor said.
Experiments on mice have shown not only the rejuvenation of the internal organs, but also the strengthening of the whole organism. One of the age-related changes is the weakening of muscle strength. If a young mouse is able to stay on the perch for 200 seconds, then the old one falls down in 30 seconds. The experimental old mouse, due to the death of senescent cells, began to stay on the perch for 100 seconds.
“We can say that this is rejuvenation. In any case, we are seeing a similar effect. This is the essence of our discovery, ”said Professor Nakanishi.
Perhaps the practical application of this discovery in humans is also not far off.
“The most important thing is that this drug already exists and is in the first phase of clinical trials. If it does not have side effects, then it can probably be used against age-related changes. That is, it is quite possible that its widespread use is actually very close. This is very encouraging. I would like it to be applicable for ordinary elderly people in five to ten years, ”the scientist said.
If, in the course of these clinical experiments, the safety of the drug for humans is proven, then it will be possible to first use it for people with progeria - premature aging syndrome, the professor specifies. Further, it can be used for those who, due to age-related muscle weakening, cannot lead a normal life, as well as for patients who have kidney failure and who need dialysis.
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Professor Makoto Nakanishi believes that if the safety of the drug and its effectiveness in influencing aging cells in humans are proven, it will be possible to achieve an increase in life expectancy and a reduction in the gap between overall life expectancy and a healthy state of a person. Now this gap is about ten years on average.
“It is believed that the maximum human life span is 120 years. One of the main mechanisms why mortality rates increase with age is the accumulation of cells that excite inflammatory processes. If you remove this mechanism, then, perhaps, the mortality rate will not increase with age. That is, a person will be able to live healthy up to 100 years. He will maintain health and will not get sick (from old age), but the maximum life expectancy of 120 years will not change. We believe that this will happen: life expectancy will approach 100-120 years, and plus the difference between a healthy state and the time when a person dies, will be reduced to zero, ”the scientist concluded.