Ultrasound Therapy Can Awaken 'Zombie' Cells And Reverse Aging, Study Finds

People try all sorts of remedies and treatments to slow down aging. Now, a new study has found that a great way to reverse aging is to zap "zombie" cells with ultrasound waves.

Scientists from the University of Texas found that treating mice with low-frequency waves restarted cell division, rejuvenating cells from a zombie-like state that causes cell dysfunction and even diseases.

Experiments on older mice reinvigorated their cells that allowed the animals to run faster and for more duration on a treadmill, the study found. In one case, the ultrasound therapy, which had worsened an individual's hunched back, straightened it the second time.

“We treated it twice with ultrasound and it was back to behaving normally. I don’t think rejuvenation is too strong a term,” lead author Professor Michael Sheetz from the University of Texas said, Study Finds reported.

Researchers are now planning a clinical trial to check the safety and efficacy of the technique in humans.

“‘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 commented.

Basic biology dictates that the cells in our bodies stop dividing after undergoing a certain number of division cycles, and become senescent. Some of these cells secrete toxins that are inflammatory in nature and have been linked to a myriad of diseases, such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s.

The research team found low levels of ultrasound waves made senescent cells from monkeys and humans restart dividing. In this way, the production of chemicals that affect healthy cells was stopped. For instance, human skin cells typically undergo 15 divisions before wearing out. In the study, the cells completed 24 divisions with no abnormalities noted.

“Aspects of this are still mystifying,” Prof. Sheetz said, according to the outlet.

The ultrasound frequency used in the study was no more than 100 kilohertz. For context, medical imaging uses around 2,000 kilohertz for its process.

For the study, mice were put in warm water covering half of their bodies. The rodents were aged between 22 and 25 months old, which is equivalent to a human being in his 60s or 70s. Placing them in water was important because ultrasound waves lose power when it travels through the air compared to water.

The study showed that the rodents performed better in physical tests in comparison to the ones who were put in the tub, but not subjected to the ultrasound treatment. Fluorescent dyes were used to track senescent cells, which showed a decrease in those cells in the kidneys and pancreas following treatment.

“But I think more work is needed to define the effective ultrasound parameters,” Prof. Jurgen Gotz from the University of Queensland, who did not take part in the study, said.

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