A research team from Juntendo University in Japan claims to have developed an innovative vaccine that can effectively eliminate ‘zombie cells’, which are cells that accumulate in living beings with age and cause damage to nearby cells, leading to aging-related diseases like arterial stiffening.
The research team, led by Professor Toru Minamino from Juntendo University in Tokyo, has published its research in the online version of the Nature Aging journal. The results confirm that the mice that had been administered with the new vaccine have shown a decrease in the number of zombie cells, also called senescent cells, as well as in the size of areas affected by arterial stiffening.
Prof. Minamino stated they can expect the utilization of the vaccine in the treatment of arterial stiffening, diabetes as well as in other diseases related to aging.
For the uninitiated, the senescent cells are cells that have stopped dividing but have not died, accumulating in the body with time and causing damage to nearby healthy cells by releasing inflammation-causing chemicals.
The team was supposedly able to identify a protein found in these cells, found in humans and mice, to create a peptide vaccine through an amino acid found in the protein.
With the vaccine, the body can create antibodies that will attach themselves to these senescent cells, which will then be removed by the white blood cells (WBCs) that will identify and stick to the antibodies.
The team had administered the vaccine to mice suffering from arterial stiffening and reported that many of the accumulated zombie cells were removed, causing the areas affected by the disease to shrink as well.
The vaccine was also administered to aged mice, where researchers noticed that their fatality progression had slowed down as compared to that of unvaccinated mice.
Currently, much of the existing drugs that can remove senescent cells are used for the treatment of cancer, but also have negative side effects. The team has said that the new vaccine has fewer side effects with long-lasting efficacy.