London: Scientists have found new drug targets which could temporarily reverse the effects of ageing on immunity and could, in the future, allow for the short-term boosting of the immune systems of older people.
Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have discovered a new mechanism controlling ageing in white blood cells.
Weakened immunity is a serious issue for older people. Because our immune systems become less effective as we age we suffer from more infections and these are often more severe. This takes a serious toll on health and quality of life.
Professor Arne Akbar of UCL (University College London), who led this research, said "This research opens up the exciting possibility of giving older people`s immune systems a temporary boost to help them fight off infections, but this is not a fountain of eternal youth.
"It is perfectly normal for our immune systems to become less effective and there are good evolutionary reasons for this."
"We`re a long way from having enough understanding of ageing to consider permanently rejuvenating white blood cells, if it is even possible," he added.
The study was recently published in the Journal of Immunology.