Peter Pan and his Lost Boys never grew up, and a team of US scientists may have found their secret. For mice, at least.
In a research paper published today in the Nature journal, the team report they've developed a way to slow aging in mice.
By removing certain cells known as 'senescent cells' -- cells that have stopped reproducing quickly -- the researchers found the mice lived longer, and suffered less from age-related illnesses.
Senescent cells help heal wounds, but they've also been linked with an assortment of age-dependent diseases, the paper reports.
The experiment was conducted on genetically-engineered mice, which were developed to be able to cope with the removal of the cells at any point in their age.
In the experiment, the cells were removed when the mice were around 12 months old, or middle-aged.
Not only did their median lifespans increase, but the treated mice suffered less from various conditions linked with aging, such as fat loss, development of cataracts and the deterioration of the kidney and heart slowed.
Removal of the senescent cells also slowed the formation of tumours, the researchers report.
They were able to achieve the same results in mice from two different, distinct genetic backgrounds, without any apparent side effects.
The scientists say there's still a way to go yet finding a way to get the same results with humans, but they're hopeful the research could lead to developments in the treatment of age-related conditions.