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Pill of the Future: Age-Reversing Drug Shows Success in Mice, Human Trial Up Next

Mar 29, 2017 07:17 AM EDT

Researchers at the Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands claim success of anti-aging drug in mice.

BBC reported that aging is believed to be associated with the existence of senescent cells, which are cells that cease to divide or cells that have lost their functions. These cells have been found to release chemicals that contribute to further cell damage. Unfortunately, senescent cells accumulate as we age.

The researchers claim they have found a way to flush out those damaging cells. According to the paper published in Cell, the peptide works by selectively killing senescent cells by disrupting the chemical balance within them.

As noted by New Atlas, the peptide interrupts the communication between a protein called FOXO4 with another protein, p53. It is believed that the interaction of the two results to senescence in cells. Therefore, once their communication is blocked, senescent cells would cease to exist and will go through apoptosis or "self-destruct" mode.

Once the peptide was tested in mice whose equivalent age in humans is 90, it restored its missing fur, improved some organ functions and rejuvenated its stamina.

The researchers also claim that the peptide is safe as it particularly targets only senescent cells to go through apoptosis.

"Only in senescent cells does this peptide cause cell death," says senior author Peter de Keizer in a statement obtained by EurekAlert.

"We treated mice for over 10 months, giving them infusions of the peptide three times a week, and we didn't see any obvious side effects. FOXO4 is barely expressed in non-senescent cells, so that makes the peptide interesting as the FOXO4-p53 interaction is especially relevant to senescent cells, but not normal cells," he added.

ZME Science meanwhile noted that while the study has some promising results, they should be vigilant when the peptide goes on human trial because while senescent cells is linked to aging, it is fosters wound healing and cancer control. Otherwise, the therapy could end up doing more harm than good.

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