After experimenting on older mice, lead author Professor Michael Sheetz of the University of Texas claims that ultrasound waves have a “fountain of youth” effect on cells.
According to a recent study, ultrasound therapy may be able to slow down, stop, or even reverse the ageing process. Texas researchers are trying to zap human cells with low-frequency waves to turn back the hands of time. Cells are roused from a “zombie”-like state that leads to dysfunction and even disease by the process, which initiates cell division.
Older mice used in experiments had their cells rejuvenated, allowing them to run faster and farther on a treadmill. One person’s curved back was even treated after first getting worse.
“We treated it twice with ultrasound and it was back to behaving normally. I don’t think rejuvenation is too strong a term,” says lead author Professor Michael Sheetz from the University of Texas, according to a statement provided by South West News Service per New Scientist.
The research provides hope for preventing frailty and keeping people active into their 70s and 80s. To determine if the method is secure and effective in preventing age-related disorders, a clinical trial is currently being planned.
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“‘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,” Prof. Sheetz explains.
The sound waves are much lower than medical scans use
The cells in our body stop dividing and become senescent after a specific number of divisions. Some people release inflammatory toxins into the body. Everything from arthritis to Alzheimer’s has been connected to this. Prior research has concentrated on “flushing” out dead and dying cells. The first study to demonstrate that they can be “revived” is this one.
Low dosages of ultrasonic waves, according to Prof. Sheetz and his team, caused senescent cells from humans and monkeys to start dividing again and stop the creation of toxins that contaminate their healthy counterparts. Typically, human skin cells start to deteriorate after 15 divisions. In this instance, they reached 24 without exhibiting any abnormalities.
The ultrasound frequency was less than 100 kilohertz — well below the 2,000 or so used for medical imaging. The limits are still being investigated through tests. The work paves the way for the growth of cells for scientific study and the treatment of elderly individuals.
Mice were submerged in warm water that covered at least half of their body, according to the researchers. They were around the age of a person in their 60s or 70s, being between 22 and 25 months old. Compared to travelling through the air, ultrasound waves lose less energy when travelling through water. Comparatively to colleagues who were placed in the tub but left untreated, the lab rodents performed better in physical examinations. Additionally, fluorescent dyes that illuminate senescent cells were employed to display kidney proportions and the pancreas decreased afterwards.
“Aspects of this are still mystifying,” says Prof. Sheetz.
How does the treatment rejuvenate cells?
The physical distortion of cells caused by ultrasound, which has effects similar to those of exercise, maybe a biological explanation for why this treatment appears to be effective. Particularly, it might be turning on internal waste disposal systems that stop working in senescent cells.
The University of Queensland’s Prof. Jurgen Gotz, who was not involved in the study, deemed the evidence to be strong.
“But I think more work is needed to define the effective ultrasound parameters,” Prof. Gotz says in a statement from SWNS.
He said that when it comes to people, bones and lungs block ultrasound transmission. His Australian team has shown that mice exposed to ultrasound at a higher frequency have enhanced memory. There is already a small experiment running to investigate if this can benefit Alzheimer’s patients.
Ultrasound has been used for decades as a therapy for a wide range of conditions. The trial being planned by Prof. Sheetz’s team will involve persons with osteoarthritis submerging their bodies in water and people with diabetic foot ulcers receiving foot baths as treatment. Theoretically, any medication that promotes cell division could raise the chance of cancer, but according to Prof. Sheetz’s research, there has been no evidence of this following treatment.