Sound therapy could delay, stop or even reverse aging: study
Experiments on old mice also found they became reinvigorated.
By Mark Waghorn via SWNS
Aging could be delayed, stopped, or even reversed with sound therapy, according to new research.
Scientists have turned back the clock on human cells by zapping them with low-frequency waves.
It restarted division, awakening them from a zombie-like state that triggers illness.
Experiments on old mice also found they became reinvigorated - running further and faster on a treadmill.
It even cured one individual's hunched back - after it worsened initially, the US team revealed.
Lead author Professor Michael Sheetz, of the University of Texas, said: "We treated it twice with ultrasound and it was back to behaving normally. I don't think rejuvenation is too strong a term.”
The findings offer hope of warding off frailty - keeping people fit into their 70s, 80s and beyond.
A clinical trial is being planned to see if the technique is safe - and can combat age-related diseases.
Sheetz said: "'Is this too good to be true?' Is the question I often ask. We are examining all aspects of it to see if it really does work."
After a certain number of divisions, the cells in our bodies stop dividing, becoming senescent. Some secrete toxins that cause inflammation.
They have been linked to everything from arthritis to Alzheimer's.
Scientists have previously focused on 'flushing' them out. This is the first study to show they can be 'revived.'
Prof Sheetz and colleagues found low doses of ultrasound made senescent cells from monkeys and humans resume dividing - halting the production of chemicals that contaminate healthy counterparts.
Human foreskin cells usually begin wearing out after about 15 divisions. They reached 24 - with no signs of abnormalities.
Ultrasound frequency was less than 100 kilohertz - well below the 2,000 or so used for medical imaging.
Tests are continuing to see what the limits are, reports New Scientist.
It opens the door to growing cells for research - as well as treating people.
The researchers placed mice in warm water deep enough to cover at least half their bodies.
They were aged 22 to 25 months - equivalent to a human being in their 60s or 70s.
Ultrasound waves lose less power traveling through water than they do through air.
The lab rodents did better in physical tests compared with peers put in the tub but left untreated.
Fluorescent dyes that light up senescent cells were also used to show proportions in the kidneys and pancreas decreased afterward.
Sheetz said: "Aspects of this are still mystifying."
A possible biological explanation is ultrasound physically distorts cells - producing similar effects to exercise.
In particular, it may be reactivating interior waste disposal systems - which grind to a halt in senescent cells.
Prof. Jurgen Gotz, of the University of Queensland who was not involved in the study, described it as convincing.
He said: "But I think more work is needed to define the effective ultrasound parameters."
When applying it to people, he pointed out that bones and lungs block ultrasound transmission.
His Australian team has found aging mice given a higher frequency of ultrasound show improvements in memory.
A small trial is already underway to see if this can help people with Alzheimer's.
Ultrasound has been used for decades as a therapy for a wide range of conditions.
Sheetz's team is planning a trial involving people with osteoarthritis, who will immerse their bodies in the water, and people with diabetic foot ulcers, who will be treated using foot baths.
Any therapy that boosts cell division could theoretically increase the risk of cancer. But Sheetz says his team has seen no sign of this.
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