Professor Richard Faragher, the University of Brighton’s Professor of Biogerontology, told a House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee that the country’s scientists have the expertise and potential to reverse or slow ageing and, in doing so, build a “formidable” industry.
Members of the House of Lords were meeting to question academic experts about the fundamental processes of ageing. The committee will use the information to help its inquiry into how science and technology can enable healthier living in old age.
Professor Faragher said one of the culprits of ageing were senescent cells, cells that go rogue and start secreting chemicals that damage the body. Older bodies were less good at getting rid of them.
He said: “At the start of your life, every time you make a senescent cell it is almost always dealt with pretty swiftly. By the time you are my age it is more on the lines of ‘Hello, this is your immune system, your call is important to us but we are experiencing high volumes (of calls), please stay on this line’.”
He said if senescent cells were eliminated then the result could be dramatic: “We know this is a major ageing mechanism because in experimental animals where it has proved possible to delete these cells these animals showed enormous increase in their health.