An article posted online (11/2/2011) by The Scientist says researchers have been able to delay the onset of age-related health declines in mice by selectively killing off aging cells.
According to the magazine, cancer biologist Jan van Deursen of the Mayo Clinic his team created mice that age prematurely, falling prey to a variety of age-related diseases early in life. They also inserted a gene into the mouse genome, which allowed them to selectively kill cells expressing p16 (a tumor suppressor molecule) by feeding the mice a compound called AP20187.
Mice fed a diet containing the compound from infancy took much longer to develop muscle weakness, cataracts, and other signs of aging than controls. Even when older mice were fed AP20187, many of the age-related problems plateaued. The findings suggest that senescent cells actively cause harm, and that killing them can delay at least some forms of aging. “If you translate that to humans, if you were to clear senescent cells regularly from a young age, that would probably have a major impact on health span,” van Deursen said.
Read more about their findings and the implications for humans at: