Antibodies Against Old Age | Science and life

Aging cells should normally die on time, because the accumulated errors in DNA and proteins prevent them from working properly. Timely death is ensured by a self-destruction program built into the genome. But it happens that the program does not work, and the cell continues to age and age.

On the one hand, the division mechanism is disabled in the aging cell, and it cannot become cancerous. On the other hand, it actively releases into the environment a whole set of compounds, inflammatory signals, enzymes that break down other proteins, etc. Such a cocktail, secreted by a decrepit cell, has a bad effect on the surrounding tissue. Aging cells provoke general background inflammation in the body, increase the risk of atherosclerosis, harm the brain, and generally shorten life. In such a situation, there remains hope for immunity: if the self-destruction program has not worked in the cell, it must be destroyed by immune cells that literally smell of old age, that is, in the wake of those molecules that the aging cell throws out of itself. But it happens that the immune system does not work as it should, and aging cells continue to accumulate.

To get rid of them, you can use special senolytic drugs (that is, directed against senile, or old, cells). Such drugs are being actively developed in different laboratories, but they often turn out to be toxic not only for old cells, but for everyone in general. The problem could be solved by targeted delivery, that is, if the senolytic medicine came only to the old cell.

University of Leicester staff and Open University of Catalonia suggest using antibodies here. As you know, antibodies (or proteins, immunoglobulins) are designed to bind to certain molecules – other proteins, complex carbohydrate complexes, etc. By binding, they point the immune cells to the target that needs to be destroyed; at the same time, antibodies by themselves block the properties of those molecules with which they interact.

Modern biotechnology makes it possible to create antibodies with the desired specificity, that is, with the ability to bind exactly the molecule that we need. In this case, some medicinal substance can be attached to the antibody molecules. Antibodies will land on a certain type of cells, recognizing characteristic proteins on their surface, and the drug that the antibodies brought with them will act on the cell on which the antibody has settled, without poisoning anyone on the way to it. Aging cells differ in their molecular profile from others, and it is only necessary to create antibodies that will distinguish exclusively cells with senile signs.

Researchers were able to create such antibodies by attaching the powerful antibiotic duocarmycin to them. The main problem was to find such molecular targets that only senescent cells have. The experiments were carried out with cell cultures, among which there were both senescent and normal ones. In an article in Scientific Reports it is said that antibiotic antibodies only acted on senescent cells. That is, in principle, at the level of cells, this approach works, and now it is necessary to test it on animals: in a real organism, antibodies will still need to find aging cells, and it is not yet a fact that antibodies will work quite effectively and without side effects.

Last year we wrote about a different approach: then it was about modifying T-lymphocytes, teaching them to recognize aging cells. Such lymphocytes effectively destroyed aged cells directly in the body of mice. However, while the methods associated with the modification of T-lymphocytes remain very, very expensive.

Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by

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