Zombies have invaded our body’s— senescent cells

No, I’m talking about zombies eating our brains. I’m talking about these cells in our body called senescent cells. They are basically like zombie’s and they are all over our bodies. We get more and more of them as we age.

What are senescent cells?

Like I said, senescent cells are the zombie cells in our body. But what does this actually mean? Well first let’s start with how they are made.

Cell division is something that occurs in our body and it’s when your cells divide. This happens constantly. Every second you get 2 million new cells.

Now every time your cells copy it has to copy these things called chromosomes. But this process isn’t perfect and so the ends of the DNA are cut off in the cell division process.

Now I know what your thinking. “We don’t want to lose that DNA!”. Well, don’t worry we aren’t. Our body has created these things called telomeres and they basically protect all the DNA from being cut off on the end. Kind of like the aglets on the end of our shoelaces.

But eventually, these telomeres run out. Usually after 50–70 cell divisions they are gone meaning the cell can’t copy over anymore.

Well if it can’t do anything it would die, right? Nope, it just stays there. They stay inside your body and they actually produce harmful chemicals into your body. Now they aren’t super harmful where they are going to kill us in a week because then we would die right after being born and you wouldn’t be here reading this.

The reason they can’t die is that they underproduce a protein that tells them when it’s time to die.

But that’s what senescent cells are. Cells that are basically dead in our body's producing harmful chemicals. Slowly, they are killing you because they are harming your tissue.

What do senescent cells do to our body?

So before I said that they produce harmful chemicals and that they are damaging our tissue. But they do other stuff to us as well.

Senescent cells are actually one of the leading causes of age-related diseases. These diseases include Parkinsons, arthritis, Cardiovascular disease and so many more.

As we age the number of senescent cells we have in our body goes up increasing our risk to these diseases. That’s why all these diseases have a higher risk as we age.

How can we get rid of these horrible cells?

I know what your thinking. She must be telling us all this bad stuff about these zombie cells in our bodies to have it lead up to something. Don’t worry you were right.

There have been procedures performed on mice to get rid of them and the results were interesting. The older mice without these cells were more active, their hearts and kidneys were overall better, and they were less prone to cancer. They turned out to live 30 percent longer than the mice with these cells.

This sounds like a miracle right. Well no. There’s a problem with this. That problem is that all the patients were mice. This means it wouldn’t necessarily work on humans. Plus, how would we remove the cells? Back to the lack of protein, mice have been injected with this protein (study in late 2016) and it killed 80% of senescent cells while harming almost no healthy cells.

But again, all of these studies were performed on mice so there are no guarantees that they would work on humans. But it does prove that there are possible ways to do this. We’re just not 100% sure it could work on humans.

Can I do something to lower the number of senescent cells I have?

No these procedures to remove them haven’t been properly tested on humans but there is another way being researched that is being tested on humans.

Currently, there’s something being researched called senolytics. This is a drug that targets specifically senescent cells. They are trying to see if these drugs can be sued to get rid of senescent cells without harming all the healthy ones in our body.

Types of senolytics: QUERCETIN and DASATINIB and their compounds

Some takeaways:

  • Senescent cells are like zombie cells
  • They produce toxic chemicals and harm tissue
  • They are one of the leading causes of age-related diseases
  • There are ways of getting rid of them but they haven’t been fully tested on humans yet

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