T cells and the quest for everlasting youth

Senolytic CAR T cells prevent age-related metabolic problems long-term.

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Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory found a potential anti-aging solution within us. When genetically modified, T cells can be reprogrammed to target and fight senescent cells that accumulate as we age. Senescent cells are linked to diseases in later life, and eliminating them is a key to anti-aging. Unlike drugs requiring frequent doses, this approach offers a promising, long-lasting solution.

Amor Vegas and team explored CAR T cells, a “living” drug, as an alternative. They found that manipulating CAR T cells could remove senescent cells in mice, leading to healthier lives. The mice showed benefits like lower body weight, improved metabolism, better glucose tolerance, and increased physical activity

Notably, these positive effects occurred without causing any harm or toxicity to the tissues. According to Amor Vegas, this therapy rejuvenated aged mice. It slowed down the aging process in younger mice, something unmatched by any other current treatment.

The most significant power of CAR T cells is their longevity. The team found that just one dose at a young age can have lifelong effects. That single treatment can protect against conditions commonly occurring later in life, like obesity and diabetes

Amor Vegas explains: “T cells can develop memory and persist in your body for long periods, which is very different from a chemical drug. With CAR T cells, you have the potential of getting this one treatment, and then that’s it. For chronic pathologies, that’s a huge advantage. Think about patients who need treatment multiple times per day versus you get an infusion, and then you’re good to go for multiple years.”

CAR T cells, known for treating blood cancers since FDA approval in 2017, may have broader medical benefits. In a breakthrough, Amor Vegas demonstrated that these cells can slow aging in young mice, protecting against obesity and diabetes. 

Ongoing research in Vegas’ lab explores whether CAR T cells promote healthier lives and extend lifespan. This could bring us closer to unlocking the elusive fountain of youth.

The discovery that T cells, particularly CAR T cells, may hold the key to slowing down the aging process opens new avenues for medical research. If further validated, this breakthrough could revolutionize our understanding of aging and potentially lead to transformative interventions in the quest for a fountain of youth.

Journal reference:

  1. Amor, C., Fernández-Maestre, I., Chowdhury, S. et al. Prophylactic and long-lasting efficacy of senolytic CAR T cells against age-related metabolic dysfunction. Nature Aging. DOI: 10.1038/s43587-023-00560-5.

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