Age-related diseases like cancer and dementia could be preventable

Age-related diseases like cancer and dementia could be preventable, scientists discover

Age-related diseases like cancer and dementia could be preventable after scientists rejuvenate old human cells in the lab

  • Cells are thought to age when they cannot turn genes ‘on and off’ correctly
  • Injecting the chemical hydrogen sulphide into cells gives them back this ability 
  • Researchers hope the same results will occur outside of the lab in humans  
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Age-related diseases like cancer and dementia could be preventable, new research suggests.

Scientists have managed to rejuvenate old human cells in the lab.

The exact cause of ageing is unclear, however, previous research suggests cells deteriorate when they lose the ability to turn genes ‘on and off’ correctly. 

Injecting small amounts of the chemical hydrogen sulphide into the ‘energy powerhouses’ of cells’ allows them to once again control gene regulation. 

The researchers believe their findings could slow down or halt the processes that lead to ‘elderly’ diseases.  

Ageing may be reversible: Doctors rejuvenate old human cells in the lab (stock)

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Having sex at least once a week slows ageing in women – even if they do not enjoy being intimate, research suggested in July 2017.

Being active between the sheets increases the length of women’s telomeres, a study found.

These ‘cap’ the end of DNA strands, with longer lengths being associated with slower ageing, longer lifespans and improved overall health.

Women’s telomeres lengthen with regular love making regardless of whether they are sexually satisfied in their relationship, the research adds.

Researchers believe sex may aid ageing in women by dampening stress and boosting their immune systems.

The scientists, from the University of California, San Francisco, analysed physical intimacy, as well as partner support or conflict, overall relationship satisfaction and stress in 129 mothers in long-term relationships.

Blood samples were taken from the study’s participants to determine their telomere length.

The study was conducted over one week.

Lead author Tomás Cabeza de Baca said: ‘Over time, shortened telomeres may contribute to chronic degenerative diseases and premature mortality.

‘Sexual intimacy may dampen the effects of stress by down-regulating stress response systems and up-regulating immune response.

‘Over time, these patterns of stress function should result in longer telomere length,’ PsyPost reported. 

Why do cells age?

Cells are thought to age due to the accumulation of so-called senescent cells.

These are older, deteriorated cells that do not function as well as they should and spread such effects to the cells that surround them.  

Removal of senescent cells has previously been shown to delay the onset of cataracts in animals.

Cells are thought to become senescent due to DNA damage or inflammation, as well as an inability to turn genes on and off at the right time.

How did the researchers reverse cell ageing?

The scientists, from the University of Exeter, treated old cells with hydrogen sulphide, which makes cells better able to turn genes on and off correctly.

Hydrogen sulphide can be toxic in large amounts. Therefore, the chemical was delivered straight to the cells’ energy powerhouses, known as mitochondria, to cause fewer side effects.

Results, published in the journal Aging, suggest the number of sensecent cells halved.  

The researchers hope their findings will enable senescent cells to be removed from living people.

Watch the speed a cell commits suicide to protect the body

This comes after footage released earlier this month shows the exact speed at which a cell commits suicide to protect the body from disease.

The video demonstrates death spreads across a cell at a speed of 0.03mm a minute.

Cells, which can be up to 0.1mm across, often kill themselves for the greater good, such as to prevent cancer developing or viruses spreading. This process is known as apoptosis.

Such fatalities are triggered by a signal going off within a cell that then spreads like a ‘wave’ with the self destruction of one part of the cell sparking the same death elsewhere, like a wildfire, a study found.

Experts previously thought cell death spread by diffusion, which is the movement of substances from an area where they are at a high concentration to a region where their concentration is low.

Yet the study’s researchers, from Stanford University, argue a cell death speed of 0.03mm is too fast to be down to diffusion and must instead be caused by a chemical trigger.

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