Scientists may have discovered how to reverse inflammation and ageing

New finding could halt or reverse age-related conditions like Alzheimer’s.

Can scientists reverse ageing?

Chronic inflammation, which results when old age, stress or environmental toxins keep the body’s immune system in overdrive, can contribute to a variety of devastating diseases, from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to diabetes and cancer.

Now, scientists at the University of California have identified a molecular ‘switch’ that controls the immune machinery responsible for chronic inflammation in the body.

The finding could lead to new ways of halting or even reversing many of these age-related conditions.

Associate Professor Danica Chen, the senior author of the study, explained that her laboratory is focused on understanding the reversibility of ageing and these finds have the team very excited.

“In the past, we showed that aged stem cells can be rejuvenated,” Assoc. Prof Chen said.

“Now, we are asking: to what extent can ageing be reversed? And we are doing that by looking at physiological conditions, like inflammation and insulin resistance, that have been associated with ageing-related degeneration and diseases.”

In the study, Assoc. Prof. Chen and her team show that a bulky collection of immune proteins called the NLRP3 inflammasome – responsible for sensing potential threats to the body and launching an inflammation response – can be essentially switched off by removing a small bit of molecular matter in a process called deacetylation.

Overactivation of the NLRP3 inflammasome has been linked to a variety of chronic conditions, including multiple sclerosis, cancer, diabetes and dementia.

Assoc. Prof Chen’s results suggest that drugs targeted toward deacetylating, or switching off, this NLRP3 inflammasome might help prevent or treat these conditions and possibly age-related degeneration in general.

“This acetylation can serve as a switch,” Assoc. Prof. Chen said. “So, when it is acetylated, this inflammasome is on. When it is deacetylated, the inflammasome is off.”

By studying mice and immune cells called macrophages, the team found that a protein called SIRT2 is responsible for deacetylating the NLRP3 inflammasome.

Mice that were bred with a genetic mutation which prevented them from producing SIRT2 showed more signs of inflammation at the ripe old age of two than their normal counterparts. These mice also exhibited higher insulin resistance, a condition associated with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

The team also studied older mice with immune systems that had been destroyed with radiation and then reconstituted with blood stem cells which produced either the deacetylated or the acetylated version of the NLRP3 inflammasome.

Those which were given the deacetylated, or ‘off’ version of the inflammasome had improved insulin resistance after six weeks, indicating that switching off this immune machinery might actually reverse the course of metabolic disease.

“I think this finding has very important implications in treating major human chronic diseases,” Assoc. Prof. Chen said.

“It’s also a timely question to ask, because in the past year, many promising Alzheimer’s disease trials ended in failure. One possible explanation is that treatment starts too late, and it has gone to the point of no return.

“So, I think it’s more urgent than ever to understand the reversibility of ageing-related conditions and use that knowledge to aid a drug development for ageing-related diseases.”

What do you think of these results? Are you excited by the prospect of an anti-ageing treatment being developed?

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COMMENTS

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Charlie
13th Feb 2020
12:41pm
Who can get excited by anti aging treatment that wont be invented till after they die. So exciting?
KSS
13th Feb 2020
12:56pm
What's the point? To keep people alive for longer? Death is part of the lifecycle of all living things. If we are artificially prolonging life like this, what will the climate change activists have to say? Isn't population growth part of the problem? If no-one dies and people continue to reproduce, what then?
sunnyOz
13th Feb 2020
3:00pm
Not interested in living longer....just living better.
Tzuki
13th Feb 2020
3:04pm
sunnyOz I totally agree!
Oldchick
14th Feb 2020
11:59am
If it could stop you feeling everyday when you wake up that you hadn’t because you feel so crappy, tired, aching and flat, yep bring on the drugs. Living longer - not for me
aussiecarer
13th Feb 2020
6:01pm
I would be skeptical about trialing anything that claims to reverse or prevent an age-related disease. After all, the global powers keep talking about urgently needing to reduce the global population. They talk about the increase in population being unsustainable. Sterilization vaccines are already being misused in Africa on teenage girls who don't know what they are being given. In the last decade 350 million newborn Chinese infants have been left to die after they've been born because of the one (male) child policy. Euthanasia has been legalized in many countries to reduce the burden of the sick and the elderly on society. Given the zeitgeist - if genuine anti-ageing medication hits the mainstream market, it will only be available and affordable to a select few - the mega wealthy. As for it's long term effectiveness - every other Alzheimer's medication trial has not delivered the promised quality of life - so why should this one?
Nose Hair Bob
14th Feb 2020
7:49am
Macca's and KFC are doing a good job of population control.
Colours
14th Feb 2020
1:57pm
Yeah, we need to torment and irradiate mice because the human population is much too low.
Mez
17th Feb 2020
1:19pm
At least we can eat foods that cause anti inflammatory reactions and personally, I believe that vitamin C bishops for that as it does boost your immune system which is tied in with your ageing process.
THIS vitamin is an unstable chemical compound so is easily destroyed by sunlight and heat as well as being soluble so easily tipped down the drain therefore fresh fruit and vegetables need to be eating straight from the garden or as frozen products.
Therefore, by following this and also consuming vitamin C supplements, no smoking nor excess alcohol, then one has a good chance of living a longer and healthier and happy life.


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