Zombie cells key to active old age
Scientists are trying to tackle one of humanity’s biggest challenges- staying healthy and active late in life- through a little known but flourishing field of aging research called cellular senescence.
Built on the idea that cells eventually stop dividing and enter a “senescent” state in response to various forms of damage, researchers believe that while he body removes most of its damaged cells some linger like zombies. Evidence suggests that these ‘zombies’ aren’t dead, but they can harm nearby cells like moldy fruit corrupting a fruit bowl. Zombies accumulate in older bodies, which mounting evidence links to many age-related conditions like dementia, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. The idea that one process could be at the root of numerous diseases is powerful to many scientists.
Current research offers tantalising clues that people may be able to help tame senescence themselves with exercise. Studies suggest that it is “the most promising tool that we have” for good functioning late in life, helping the immune system clear and counteracting the molecular damage that can spark the senescence process. While such studies aren’t well-known outside scientific circles, many older adults intuitively equate exercise with youthfulness and research continues to affirm this intuition.
Source: AP News