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Mayo Clinic researchers find cells that could be the culprits of anxiety

The doctors discovered a way to kill off those cells while leaving the healthy cells behind.
Credit: Mayo Clinic

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are onto something. They have discovered a way to get rid of something called senescent cells that multiply in our bodies as we grow older. 

Senescent cells are also found at the sites of major diseases in our bodies, regardless of our age and doctors have discovered a way to kill off those cells while leaving the healthy cells behind. 

The effect? It essentially allows researchers to delay, prevent, or alleviate age related diseases and increase health span. Get older but feel younger? Yes please. But there’s more.

Those same senescent cells were also found in the brains of obese people. 

 “What we found with our collaboration in England is that indeed fat-like cells develop in the brain with people with obesity, in a deep part of the brain, close to the part of the brain that controls emotions, particularly anxiety,” says Dr. James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., with the Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Diana Jurk is the head of this study. She says they fed mice a high-fat diet and noticed as they became obese, they also became anxious. They treated those mice with the drugs that kill off senescent cells and suddenly the anxiety was gone. 

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“We are now treating these animals for a couple of weeks with a  drug to eliminate these senescent cells, we saw an elimination of the anxiety, and a restoration of the neurogenesis, so we are now having new cells coming and we are also seeing less anxiety,” she says.

Promising? You bet. 

“Yes. It’s really promising, and we think we are on the way to find something to help people,” says Dr. Jurk.

The Director of the National Institutes of Health was so impressed with their findings that the study was even posted on the NIH blog.

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