Immunity, senescence and biohacking- As we grow old, we begin to search for new and innovative ways to stop the aging process..or at least, slow it down. Zombie cells may actually hold the answer to this. Also known as “senescent cells”, recent research has come into light that has shown zombie cells to be linked to aging and age-related diseases. With this new information, we could be one step closer to unlocking the secret to staying young.
So what exactly are “Zombie Cells”?
To understand what they are, you’d first need to know how cells in the body work. Here’s a quick recap: Remember learning about mitosis back in 8th grade? Mitosis is a fundamental process for life where a cell duplicates all of its contents and splits to form two identical cells. When mitosis isn’t regulated correctly, you can develop health problems. Zombie cells, in this case, are the cells that stop dividing after mitosis.
When you’re younger, the immune system has the ability to spot these cells and eliminate them from the body. As you get older, however, the immune system no longer has the capacity to continue eliminating them. This means that the cells stay in the body. Because these cells no longer divide or function properly, they then become resistant to death (hence the name “zombie cell”). Eventually, they become dead weight in your organs. The leftover cells can clog your system and trigger inflammation which can cause cumulative damage that drives aging.
To summarize, senescent cells are cells that do NOT duplicate and can contribute to:
- Cognitive decline
How are they linked to aging?
Although research on zombie cells is still fairly new, it’s still very much ongoing. A recent study published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology found zombie cells to be linked to age-related diseases like cancer, dementia, and heart disease. The study breaks down how these zombie cells develop and discovered it as a result of oxidative damage to telomeres found on your chromosomes. Oxidative damage happens as a result of an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body which contributes to aging.
Landmark research performed by Dr. Jan van Deursen from the Mayo Clinic found that killing off senescent cells in mice extended their lifespan and even restored organ function. They found that injecting certain drugs can actually kill zombie cells. By doing so, they also discovered that the mice’s lifespans were extended by 17% to 42%. This, of course, was dependent on the mice’s sex, diet, and genetic background. The mice also looked healthier and were more likely to have spontaneous activity—signs of youth.
Another research team did a study where they controlled all known causes of inflammation in aging but found that you can still get more unexplained inflammation as you age. They believe that this extra inflammation could be explained by the build up of these senescence cells.
Is there anything I can do to stop them?
Short answer? Not really. As mentioned previously, it’s still a fairly new area of anti-aging research. Until we find a full-proof way to get rid of zombie cells, it’s still beneficial to try to prevent them, especially if you’re still young. Here are a several compounds you can try to prevent them:
- FISETIN– This is a natural and powerful antioxidant found in seaweed and strawberries. It destroys senescent cells and has proven to increase the lifespan in rodents by 10%.
- PIPERLONGUMINE– Also referred to as pippali. It’s an extract of long pepper root that may help to slow down the aging process.
- METFORMIN– You’re going to need a prescription for this one. It’s a medication designed for diabetes but has become popular in the anti-aging community for increasing your lifespan and reducing senescence. Talk to your doctor first.
Because zombie cells are pretty much a direct link to aging, it doesn’t hurt to find alternative skincare products to help aid the appearance of aging rather than try to stop the source itself. As sad as it is, aging is just a natural process of life. Here are a few products I recommend:
- KD Clean Green Antioxidant Cleanser– since oxidative stress contributes to aging, a cleanser rich in antioxidants & botanicals such as this one is great for restoring & replenishing the skin.
- KD Diamond Line Refine– diminishes the appearance of wrinkles by quickly replenishing the skin barrier and increasing cell turnover.
- KD Triple Shot Serum– contains 3 powerful antioxidants to help soothe the skin, guard against free radicals, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.