As the human body ages, stem cells become less capable of repairing damage. One notable cause for this is senescence. Senescence occurs in stem cells due to the accumulated damages caused by everyday use. When potentially oncogenic stimuli are brought on by these damages, the cells will shut down proliferation and cease dividing to ensure cancer does not occur. When these stem cells senesce, inflammation is initiated to promote the body’s immune system to eliminate the senescent cells. This inflammation at low concentration is beneficial — assisting the repair of tissue. Overtime, however, the accumulation of damage caused both by this inflammation and other accumulated stresses lead to a feedback loop that further impairs tissue function. This is one of the potential causes for the aging we see today.
But what if there was a way to improve aging? Every culture has dreamed of finding the fountain of youth.
The Conboy Lab’s research on aging and rejuvenation is a step in the right direction towards making that dream a reality. The fastest growing segment of the American population are those older than 65 years of age — a segment growing faster than the total population in the US. Tissue damage due to trauma is the 5th leading cause of death for people over 65. Now more than ever, translational approaches to aging are necessary to stem the costs of an aging population.