Tokyo, Jan. 15 (Jiji Press)–A Japanese research team has found a medical agent that can remove solely senescent cells, which can cause aging-related diseases such as arteriosclerosis and diabetes.
The team, including researchers from the University of Tokyo, Niigata University and Kyushu University, has succeeded in improving symptoms of such diseases in mice by using the medical agent.
The discovery is expected to help improve the treatment and prevention of such age-associated diseases.
A paper about the finding was published in the U.S. journal Science on Friday.
When cells get stressed, they transform into senescent cells and accumulate in the body with aging.
Previous research with elderly mice has shown that it is possible to delay the development of arteriosclerosis and kidney disorder by removing senescent cells from the body with a special method.
But ways to remove such cells using a medical agent or other methods had not been discovered.
Makoto Nakanishi, a professor at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Medical Science, and other team members looked for the gene necessary for a senescent cell to survive and identified glutaminase 1, or GLS1, a gene related to glutamine metabolism.
The team also found that the inside of a senescent cell is acidified due to abnormality in cell organelles, and GLS1 actively works to neutralize the inside and keep the cell alive.
When administered with an inhibitor of GLS1, senescent cells in a variety of organs in elderly mice were eliminated and improvements in kidney, lung and liver functions were confirmed.
Improvements were also seen in mice with arteriosclerosis or diabetes.
The inhibitor is expected to have similar effects on the human body, as it has been learned that GLS1 in the human body also becomes more active with aging.
The inhibitor of GLS1 has already been in clinical trials as a candidate for cancer treatment.
“It may also be effective for treating other age-associated diseases such as dementia,” Nakanishi said. “It would be great if we could try to carry out clinical trials (for such use) in the next five to 10 years,” Nakanishi added.