Scientists Reprogram T Cells to Combat Aging: A Revolutionary Approach

As people age, their T-cell immunity decreases, making them more vulnerable to illnesses. This happens because their T cells, which are essential for fighting off infections, become less effective, and there are fewer of them.

There are two main reasons for this: firstly, the body doesn’t produce as many new T cells, and secondly, there are more “memory” T cells than “naive” ones. Additionally, ongoing infections like herpesviruses keep stimulating the immune system, worsening things.

Scientists found that special CAR T cells, usually used to treat cancer, can be changed to help fight aging. These modified cells can target and remove old cells in the body, offering a new way to treat aging-related diseases with just one treatment. This discovery brings hope for better treatments for age-related illnesses.

Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory found that they can change T cells, a type of white blood cell, to help fight aging. They discovered that by altering these cells, they can target senescent cells, which build up in our bodies as we get older and contribute to inflammation and age-related diseases.

Using CAR T-cell therapy to make aging go backward.

T cells are a type of white blood cell that helps our body fight off harmful germs like viruses and bacteria. They are special because each type of T cell is good at attacking specific germs. When a baby gets sick for the first time, their T cells learn how to fight that germ to protect the baby in the future.

T cells are made in the bone marrow and then go to the thymus gland to grow. Once mature, they travel around the body in the blood and lymphatic system, looking for germs to attack.

What Happens To T Cells As We Get Older?

Dr. Corina Amor Vegas, who works at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, led a study on T cells to fight aging. T cells are good at clearing damaged cells when we’re younger, so the researchers wondered if they could make T cells do the same as we age.

They found that as we get older, damaged cells pile up, causing inflammation and health problems. By getting rid of these damaged cells, called “senescent cells,” we could improve our health as we age.

T-cell Therapy

Dr. Corina Amor Vegas led a study using CAR T cell therapy. This treatment, known for helping with certain blood cancers and was approved by the FDA in 2017, has now shown promise in slowing down aging in mice.

The mice in the study had less body weight, better metabolism, improved glucose tolerance and were more active without harming their tissues.

According to Dr. Amor Vegas, this therapy can rejuvenate older mice and slow aging in younger ones, something no other treatment can do now.

Lasting Impacts

CAR T cell therapy has a unique advantage: it lasts long. Instead of needing to take medicine regularly, just one dose of CAR T cells can give lifelong benefits.

This is helpful for chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes. Unlike regular drugs, Dr. Amor Vegas explains that T cells can remember things and stay in the body for a long time.

So, with CAR T cells, you might only need one treatment instead of taking medicine daily, which is excellent news for people with long-term illnesses.

Take Away:

Modified changed CAR T cells can now aim at senescent cells, helping to reduce health issues related to aging in mice. What’s cool is that just one treatment with these altered T cells can give long-lasting benefits for health, which is way better than having to take medicine multiple times. This discovery means that CAR T cells, usually used for blood cancers, might also help fight diseases linked to aging.