Researchers at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center revealed a potentially game-changing finding when it comes to aging.
By blocking the deterioration of blood stem cells within bone marrow with an anti-inflammatory drug, researchers “remarkably returned the blood stem cells to a younger, healthier state” in experimental mice, according to a press release.
According to the research team, which operated under Emmanuelle Passegué, the director of the Columbia Stem Cell Initiative, “rejuvenating an older person’s blood may now be within reach.“
The researchers said that “blood stem cells live in a niche,” and that “detailed investigation of the bone marrow milieu” revealed that when they age, they are subject to deterioration and are “overwhelmed with inflammation.”
“An aging blood system, because it’s a vector for a lot of proteins, cytokines, and cells, has a lot of bad consequences for the organism,” reads the release. “A 70-year-old with a 40-year-old blood system could have a longer healthspan, if not a longer lifespan.“
“We know that bone tissue begins to degrade when people are in their 50s. What happens in middle age? Why does the niche fail first?” Passegué wrote in the press release.
“Only by having a deep molecular understanding will it be possible to identify approaches that can truly delay aging.”
According to graduate student Carl Mitchell, who discovered that the anti-inflammatory drug anakinra (Kineret) – used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, reverses some of the effects of aging on the hematopoietic system.
“These results indicate that such strategies hold promise for maintaining healthier blood production in the elderly,” said Mitchell.
The team found this drug after examining the stem cells which are responsible for creating all the blood in a person’s body. They also analyzed the niches where these special cells reside within bone marrow — the center of a person’s bones.
As a person ages, the hematopoietic stem cells start to change as well. They start producing fewer and fewer red blood cells and immune cells. This can lead to blood conditions like anemia as well as a weakening immune system. These aging blood cells also have more trouble maintaining their genetic structure, which can result in the onset of blood cancer.
Previous attempts at rejuvenating the blood system — through exercise, diet, and even young blood transfusions — all failed in experiments with mice. That’s when Passegué’s team started looking at the bone marrow itself. -StudyFinds
And once again, inflammation is the enemy.