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Longevity Briefs: Your Are More Likely To Be At Severe Risk From COVID If You Have More ‘Zombie’ Cells

Posted on 5 October 2020

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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of a novel research, medicine, or technology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: The coronavirus pandemic has now claimed over one million lives worldwide. Data has shown that COVID-19 has increased death rates in older demographic, alluding to the existence of a causal link between the coronavirus and process of biological aging.

Cells are considered senescent when they are stressed and can no longer divide to make new cells. Cellular senescence is one of the key factors affecting our aging process. And research has shown that increased cellular senescence results in an increased risk of many diseases of aging, including heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Exploring this link has shown promise of uncovering potential therapeutic avenues to treat the disease.


What did the researchers do: A team of researchers based at the European Research Institute for the Biology of Ageing in the Netherlands, and the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research in Edinburgh, UK, published a review in the Aging Cell journal discussing how the mechanics of cellular senescence may play a role in COVID-19 case severity.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: The review describes how more senescent cells contribute to an excessive inflammatory response during the early stages. In the later stages excess senescent cells exacerbate tissue damage which can result in lung failure. The team concluded that by measuring the levels of cellular senescence in the body we may be able to predict the impact COVID-19 may have on an individual. The team concluded that targeting these mechanisms may help limit the impact of the virus and improve the efficacy of vaccines in the future.

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