Posted on Jan 25, 2024, 3 p.m.
The fountain of youth has been searched for by explorers and scientists alike for centuries, but it has eluded all who have sought out its discovery. As it turns out, the magical elixir may not be in a hidden fountain after all, it may have been inside of us all this time, according to recent research published in Nature Aging from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL).
Assistant Professor Corina Amor Vegas and colleagues report discovering a way to reprogram T Cells to fight aging, and that given the right set of genetic modifications these white blood cells attack senescent (zombie) cells that are thought to be behind many of the diseases that can accompany aging.
Zombie cells are those that have stopped replicating and accumulate, causing harmful inflammation that damages cells and tissues around them. Several drugs can help to eliminate these cells but they must be taken repeatedly over time. This research investigates using a “living” drug called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T Cells to combat senescent cells.
According to the researchers they were able to manipulate CAR T Cells to eliminate zombie cells in mice, and as a result, the animals lived healthier lives, with lower body weight, as well as improved metabolism, improved glucose tolerance, and increased physical activity: and all of these benefits came without any detectable tissue damage or toxicity.
Perhaps the most impressive benefit of this CAR T Cell therapy is its longevity. One dose at a young age was found to have lasting effects, with the single treatment protecting against many conditions that commonly occur in later life such as obesity, and diabetes.
“If we give it to aged mice, they rejuvenate. If we give it to young mice, they age slower. No other therapy right now can do this,” said Amor Vegas. “T cells have the ability to develop memory and persist in your body for really long periods, which is very different from a chemical drug. With CAR T cells, you have the potential of getting this one treatment, and then that’s it. For chronic pathologies, that’s a huge advantage. Think about patients who need treatment multiple times per day versus you get an infusion, and then you’re good to go for multiple years.”
Since gaining approval from the FDA in 2017 CAR T Cells have been used to treat a variety of blood cancers. Amor Vegas is one of the first to show that these cells have medical potential that can extend even further than cancer into the space of anti-aging. Her laboratory is now investigating if these cells can help mice to extend their lifespan with their healthspan, if so these CAR T Cells can move into the space of longevity, and they may prove to be the highly sought after coveted fountain of youth.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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Corina Amor, Inés Fernández-Maestre, Saria Chowdhury, Yu-Jui Ho, Sandeep Nadella, Courtenay Graham, Sebastian E. Carrasco, Emmanuella Nnuji-John, Judith Feucht, Clemens Hinterleitner, Valentin J. A. Barthet, Jacob A. Boyer, Riccardo Mezzadra, Matthew G. Wereski, David A. Tuveson, Ross L. Levine, Lee W. Jones, Michel Sadelain, Scott W. Lowe. Prophylactic and long-lasting efficacy of senolytic CAR T cells against age-related metabolic dysfunction. Nature Aging, 2024; DOI: 10.1038/s43587-023-00560-5