The researchers developed the peptide proxofim, which perturbs the interaction between FOXO4 interaction with p53. Proxofim affects so called Senescent Cells: cells that play a major role in ageing. Perturbing the connection turned out successful in mice: they became healthier and more alert, which they showcased by running in their cages. The changes were noticeable in 30 days. Proxofim so far doesn’t have a negative side-effect on the health of the mice. Whether or not the discovery will have the same effect on humans is yet to be examined.
Proxofim takes on senescent cells
Proxofim kills senescent cells; which play a key role in ageing. The cells are irreparably damaged and were on their way to die a programmed cell-death. However, when this process blocks before a cell truly dies, a senescent cell is formed. These cells continue to function on a low level. However, these senescent cells do not function like regular cells. They are pro-inflammatory, meaning that they create an inflammatory response in their surroundings. They are also thought to impair tissue function and are thought to accelerate aging and the onset of age-related diseases.
Proxofim kills these cells and helps surrounding stem cells in making new tissue. The mice already experienced the positive effects of the peptide: they became more active and healthier.
A lot of possibilities for the future
Athough researchers previously managed to delay ageing, turning back the clock proved to be more difficult. The Erasmus MC team, which was led by Peter de Keizer, thus sees a lot of possibility for the discovery. It could, for example, be used in research covering natural healthy ageing. The peptide also seems to hold a great deal of promise for cancer research. To further develop the discovery, De Keizer and his team are considering starting a business to try and find more investments.
At the moment, the peptide has only been tested on mice. The discovery is protected with several patents, but other researchers are allowed to get free licensing, under a few conditions. The researchers with Erasmus MC want to start a clinical trial with the discovery, as soon as they have further investigated the safety. At some point in time, the researchers want to start testing the peptide in humans; preferably those with aggressive forms of cancer or signs of ageing.
Read here the research article.