• UCF researchers study 'zombie' cells that contribute to age-related issues

    By: Jamie Holmes , Christopher Boyce


    ORLANDO, Fla. - A team at the University of Central Florida has been looking into the cells inside our body that don't exactly have a function, but have the ability to make us feel old. 

    Scientists believe these "zombie" cells contribute to age related problems like osteoporosis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

    "At some point, some of the cells stop functioning," said Dr. Michael Masternak of UCF's Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. "At the same time, they are damaging other cells."


    The team is focusing their efforts on mice and how certain kinds live roughly 40 percent longer than others. Research shows that those mice have fewer "zombie" cells.

    "They not only are living longer, but they are much healthier and can be protected from several age-related diseases," said Masternak.

    UCF is now testing the anti-aging drug on their "mutant" mice and older mice to see the effects as a partnership with Mayo Clinic and other top tier national facilities.

    Early clinical trials show that patients tend to feel younger under the testing. 

    The research conducted is very beneficial as it lends to researchers being able to apply for a higher amount of grant money due to the high-profile subject. 

    "In Florida, we know we have lots of elderly people living here, so they should really be interested," said Masternak. 

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