Researchers from the universities of Spain and England have successfully developed “smart bombs” that specifically detect and destroy old cells. These old cells accumulate in our tissue, causing them to malfunction. The drug is a second-generation senolytic which have remote-controlled delivery and high specificity against old cells.
The study was carried out jointly at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) Spain and the University of Leicester, United Kingdom, and published in the Scientific Reports.
Discovering new therapeutic options for several age-related diseases
This targeted therapy for aging has opened the door to new therapeutic options to delay the development of conditions related to the aging process. These diseases could be type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or a few cancer types. In other words, these bombs delay the aging process.
The study helps to understand the causes of age-related disease
Despite a wide range of research, scientists cannot identify why some people get older worsen than others and how aging causes diseases?
It may happen due to the degree of efficacy to which every living thing responds to damages sustained by its cells during its lifetime. And it ultimately causes them to age. However, this new method can destroy old cells from the tissues, therefore slowing down the process of aging.
The antibody targets age-related proteins to destroy old cells
This antibody serves as smart bombs capable of recognizing specific proteins on the cell surface of senescent or aging cells. After identifying, this antibody attaches itself to those particular proteins on the aged cells and releases a drug. The drug, in turn, explicitly removes old cells without affecting healthy cells. Therefore, this method shows minimum possible side effects.
The aim of developing smart bombs
The aim of developing these smart bombs is to increase the durability of life. But, the project’s fundamental goal is to improve life’s quality for those at the aging stage.
Salvador Macip is a senior Professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences, UOC, and a doctor at the University of Leicester. He is also the lead investigator of that project.
He said that now their team has designed an antibody-based drug for the first time that can help cut down the cellular sensation in humans.
The antibody-based on cancer therapy
According to the expert, they have based this work on the existing treatments of cancer that target specific proteins existing on the cancer cell surface and then apply them to the senescent cells.
Every living body has a mechanism of cellular sensation. This process restricts the division of damaged cells and takes them out from the body to prevent reproducing. This mechanism helps slow down cancer progression. For example, it helps model tissues in the developmental stage of the fetus.
How does aging cause diseases?
However, despite providing physical benefits to living organisms, the cellular sensation also helps develop several diseases. In addition, it works well, especially when an organism becomes older. It is because the immune system is not working correctly to eliminate these senescent cells effectively. As a result, these cells slowly accumulate in the tissues and impair their function.
Laboratory-based in vivo experiments with earlier animal models have shown that eradicating these cells with drugs successfully delayed the progression of the age-related disease and decline. Moreover, it can be carried out with the help of a new type of medicine, called senolytic. However, these drugs have some side effects, which hinder their use in humans.
A new senolytic drug with remote control delivery
Macip and his team developed this drug, which is a second-generation senolytic. This drug has remote control delivery and high specificity. Researchers began to design this drug with the results of a past study. These studies focused on the proteins present on the cell surface, called “surfaceome.” They identified those proteins that are located only on the surface of senescent cells. Macip said these proteins are not universal, as some are present more frequently than others on each kind of aged cells.
In the current study, the researchers used a monoclonal antibody trained to identify and attach only to senescent cells. One of the senior researchers of the team and the head of the Mechanisms of Cancer and Ageing Lab, University of Leicester, said that this antibody works in the same way, as human antibodies identify germs and protect them from infections. Just like them, researchers have designed these antibodies to recognize and destroy old cells specifically. But, in addition, they also have put a toxic load on them to remove old cells as they act like a remote-controlled missile.
The drug would be an effective treatment option for several diseases
According to the researchers, we can start treatment as soon as the first symptoms of the disease, like type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, or some tumors, appear. In addition, researchers believe that it can also be used to prolong healthy life in some conditions in the long run.
What is Ageing?
At the biological level, the process of aging results in the accumulation of a variety of cellular and molecular damage with time. It causes a slow decline in mental and physical capacity, an increased risk of various diseases, and ultimately death. These health changes are neither permanent nor linear. Instead, they have linked to the age of a person in years. The diversity with aging is not accidental. Aside from biological changes, aging is usually related to other life changes, such as moving to a more suitable home, retirement, and the death of partners, family members, or friends.
Common facts about aging
Here are some critical facts of aging defined by the WHO:
- According to an estimation, the proportion of the world’s population over the age of 60 will increase from 12% to 22% from years 2015 to 2050
- By 2020, the number of the population aged 60 and over will exceed the number of children under 5.
- By 2050, around 80% of the elderly will live in middle- and low-income countries.
- The aging rate of the population has become much faster than in the past.
- Almost every country faces main challenges in ensuring that its social and health systems are ready to change most of its demographic policies.
Common conditions appear with aging
Aging is characterized by the emergence of many complex health conditions commonly referred to as a geriatric syndrome. They are usually the result of several underlying factors, including weakness, falls, urinary incontinence, pressure ulcers, and delirium. As people get older, they are more likely to develop multiple health conditions at once
Common health conditions associated with old age include:
- 1. Refractive errors and cataracts
- 2. Hearing loss
- 3. Neck and back pain
- 4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- 5. Osteoarthritis
- 6. Dementia
- 7. Depression
- 8. Diabetes
Factors affecting the aging
Evidence proves that the ratio of life with good health has been essentially constant, indicating some extra years in poor health. Suppose older people spend these additional years of life with good health living in a supportive environment. In that case, their ability to do valuable works will be only slightly different compared to a young person. However, if these extra years are dominated by mental and physical retardation, the implications for elders and society will be more damaging.
Although some changes in the health of older people are genetic, most of them are because of their social and physical environment. They include their home, community, neighborhood, and personal characteristics, such as their social and economic status, race, or gender. The atmosphere in which people live in their childhood or even the embryonic developmental period combined with their characteristics. They have long-term impacts on their age.
The social and physical environment can directly affect health or through motivations or some barriers. And these impacts ultimately affect health behavior, decisions, and opportunities. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout life, mainly engaging in regular physical activity, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding tobacco use, all help improve physical and mental capacity, cut down the risk of non-communicable diseases, and contribute to delays in care dependence.
A team of researchers has successfully developed “smart bombs” that specifically identify and destroy old cells that accumulate in our tissue. In addition, it results in the malfunctioning of these cells. The drug is a second-generation senolytic. It is also a monoclonal antibody that has high specificity against old cells and remote-controlled delivery.
This drug works by identifying some specific proteins located on the surface of senescent cells. Then, it attaches to those particular proteins and releases a drug. The drug only targets the aging cell and does not affect the healthy cells, showing minimum side effects. Researchers believe that this drug will help treat several age-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, or some cancer types. Furthermore, this study will also help the researchers to manage worsening aging to improve the quality of life. Additionally, it also helps to understand the mechanisms of how aging causes diseases.