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A Possible Break-Through in the Aging Process

Featured, Health

Older woman getting a vaccine. | Image from Zinkevych

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A Japanese research team claims to have developed a vaccine to eliminate so-called “zombie cells,” which accumulate with age and affect the aging process.

The damage to those cells results in aging-related diseases such as arterial stiffening, the research team, led by Juntendo University professor Toru Minamino, concluded.

“We can expect that [the vaccine] will be applied to the treatment of arterial stiffening, diabetes and other aging-related diseases,” Minamino wrote.

Minamino said the study demonstrated that mice given the vaccination had fewer zombie cells and less arterial stiffness.

The vaccination causes the body to produce antibodies that bind to senescent cells and are then eliminated by white blood cells that stick to the antibodies.

The effect was also seen in areas of the bodies affected by the stiffening of arteries. Senescent cells are known as “zombie cells” as they do not die. As they accumulate in the body, they facilitate the aging process.

Senescent cells have ceased to divide but have not died. They create inflammation in neighboring healthy cells by releasing substances that harm them.

On Friday, the team’s findings were published in the online edition of the journal Nature Aging.    

The researchers discovered a protein present in senescent cells in humans and mice and developed a peptide vaccination based on one of the protein’s amino acids.

Many accumulated senescent cells were eliminated, and disease-affected regions were reduced when scientists vaccinated animals with arterial stiffness, according to the findings.

According to the researchers, when given to elderly mice, the frailty progression was slower than in uninfected animals.

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