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Scientists have extended the lifespan of mice by 25% by removing living but stagnant cells body-wide, which slows age-related illnesses.

Stashed in: Science!, Awesome, Longevity!, Aging, Aging, Longevity, Fasting

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Not sure yet if these techniques will work for humans. 

In a study published in the journal Nature, medical researchers at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine—led by cell biologists Darren Baker and Jan van Deursen—have made this decade's biggest breakthrough in understanding the complex world of physical aging. The researchers found that systematically removing a category of living, stagnant cells (ones which can no longer reproduce) extends the lives of otherwise normal mice by 25 percent. Better yet, scouring these cells actually pushed back the process of aging, slowing the onset of various age-related illnesses like cataracts, heart and kidney deterioration, and even tumor formation.

"It's not just that we're making these mice live longer; they're actually stay healthier longer too. That's important, because if you were going to equate this to people, well, you don't want to just extend the years of life that people are miserable or hospitalized," says Baker.

The cells the scientists eliminated are called senescent cells. A senescent cell is an otherwise normal cell—say a skin or heart muscle cell—that has stopped dividing and reproducing. Right now, they're found all over your body. Now, these cells have long been known to be associated with aging, "for example, in mice or people or monkeys, you find accumulations of these senescent cells over time and with age. And at sites of age-related disease, like osteoporosis, you'll also find these cells," says Baker. One theory behind why these cells exist in the first place is that hyper-stressed cells become senescent to prevent potentially cancerous, unfettered reproduction.

With a highly-specific genetic tweak, the scientists had created a drug-initiated killswitch for senescent cells.

Top Reddit comment:

This paper does not have a method to reduce aging in humans. Baker et al. used a transgenic mouse model that kills senescent cells when a drug complex is added. You can drink the drug all day, but because you don't have the transgene it wouldn't do anything for you. 

What this paper does, though, is still important. This paper confirms loads of previous research that increased senescent cell accumulation through aging has a direct effect on quality of life. This research has been suggested before using cell cultures and in artificially aged mice, but this is the first time that a naturally-aging model has been used. 

It's important because it finally gives researchers a bigger platform to argue for more senescent-cell-associated research. There are tons of age-related and non-age related diseases that can benefit from this paper. It's extremely important for future funding and research.

TL;DR No you can't do what Baker, et al. did and live to be over 100, but scientists now can ask for more funding to find out how you can.

Great find Adam.  I read the article and Reddit and posted the following there:

If the tactical result of what we're looking for is autophagy of senescent cells, then why don't we just fast. And when saying fast, I mean real water only fasting. Such fasting 10 days and nights will do the trick nicely for clearing out senescent cell inventory as well as improving our metabolic balance most everybody can enjoy.

And fasting will do more people better than what Baker, et al. can do AND we can start increasing our healthspan to well over 100 starting today, not tomorrow...i.e. living robustly without an oxygen canal shoved up our nose until we expire...

Fasting has been tested in vivo for thousands of years AND has the double-the-bang-for-the-buck added benefit of net caloric restriction – which is ALSO the only practical way for lay-people to improve their healthspan and gain longevity.

Maybe fasting is not technically complex enough to be called "science" by PhDs, but it certainly is science for the masses (plus we can't get enough grant funding to pay PhDs to gussy it up because it's free to do).

If futurology is after widespread results that improves people's health and longevity then the future is now... or perhaps even a thousand years ago.

Just my 25 cents... 

Thanks for the perspective. 

How do you do water only fasting for 10 days without getting low blood sugar and feeling lightheaded?

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