Scientists have discovered the secret to live longer after analysing the immune cells of super-centenarians. A study found that super-centenarians – those who have reached the age of 110 – have an abnormal amount of immune cells that could be responsible for their longevity. If a medication or treatment can be formulated based on this breakthrough, more people could reach the significant age milestone in the future. Lead author of the study, Dr Kosuke Hashimoto, said: "If we can find the link between the immune system and aging and longevity, we may be able to contribute to prolonging healthy life expectancies."
Our risk of developing diseases, cancers and other life-threatening illnesses increases as we age, as the composition of T-cells in our immune system changes. These special cells kill bugs and foreign bodies and are found in abundance in super-centenarians who have reached 110. Super-centenarians were found to have more of these cells than 50-80-year-olds, meaning their body is better prepared to fight off bugs and foreign bodies. Even after they turn 100, these people don't require any assistance and are described as the “elite of health and longevity". Super-centenarians have more immune cells than the average person.
Dr Hashimoto said: "The findings suggest how the immune system of super-centenarians might protect against viral infections and tumour development to confer exceptional longevity. "It sheds light on why super-centenarians generally tend to spend most of their lives in good health". The study found one particular type of T-cell, called CD4+, was four-five times as abundant in the super-centenarians in comparison to the younger participants. It's not yet known how or why this particular cell might extend our lives, but getting to the bottom of it could lead to a 'fountain of youth' pill.
Dr Hashimoto said: "Their (super-centenarians) immunological condition has been largely unexplored. We profiled thousands of circulating immune cells from super-centenarians. "They are a great model of healthy ageing. Their characteristics of delayed onset of age-related diseases and compression of morbidity imply that their immune system remains functional. "Our study reveals super-centenarians have unique characteristics in their circulating immune cells, which may represent an essential adaptation to achieve exceptional longevity by sustaining immune responses to infections and diseases".
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