‘Science’ selects Mayo discovery as one of top achievements of 2011

Published 11:14 am Friday, December 23, 2011

The editors of the journal “Science” have selected a Mayo Clinic discovery as one of their top 10 “groundbreaking scientific achievements of 2011.” The Mayo study — the first to eliminate the effects of aging in mice — received worldwide attention when it was published in Nature in November. “Science’s” international list of achievements featuring scientific breakthroughs ranging from biology to aerospace research was released Thursday afternoon.

The study showed that the onset of age-related disorders and disabilities could be delayed or prevented by eliminating senescent cells: cells that have become “deadbeat” and are no longer dividing.

“This is indeed an honor, coming from Science in particular,” says Jan van Deursen, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic molecular biologist and senior author of the study. “We’re pleased for this recognition for our team and collaborators, including the Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging.”

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The “Science” editors expressed enthusiasm that “mice whose bodies were cleared of these loitering cells didn’t live longer than their untreated cage-mates — but they did seem to live better, which provided researchers with some hope that banishing senescent cells might also prolong our golden years.”

“Our discovery demonstrates that, in our body, cells are accumulating that cause these age-related disorders and discomforts,” says Dr. van Deursen, the Vita Valley Professor of Cellular Senescence at Mayo Clinic. “Therapeutic interventions to get rid of senescent cells or block their effects may represent an avenue to make us feel more vital, healthier, and allow us to stay independent for a much longer time.”

The research is an important step in the quest to improve health-span — not necessarily living a longer life, but a healthier, more productive one.

Co-authors of the article are Darren Baker, Ph.D., Tamar Tchkonia, Ph.D., Nathan LeBrasseur, Ph.D., James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., and Bennett Childs, all of Mayo Clinic; and Tobias Wijshake and Bart van de Sluis, Ph.D., both of Groningen University, the Netherlands. The Ellison Medical Foundation, the Noaber Foundation, the Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging and the National Institutes of Health funded the study.