Wants to Remain Young?

Author : Dr. P D Gupta 

Former Director Grade Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad (INDIA), Email: pdg2000@hotmail.com, Cell: 080728 91356


Today vaccine has become talk of the town but think of those days about 225 years back when Edward Jenner developed using vaccinia virus as antigen vaccine for smallpox, the most dangerous disease, now eradicated from the world.

This is the story of vaccine from the west, but much earlier to this, from the literature which is well recorded*, on the same principle, during the time of Indian Maurya Emperor, Chandragupta, between 340 and 293 BC the great scholar Chankya in his famous book Arthashastra, a manual of statecraft mentioned about The Poison Damsel (Sanskrit Viṣakanyā). “The Visha Kanya” were young women reportedly used as assassins, often against powerful enemies, during the times of the Chandragupta.

The principle and technique goes that young girls were raised on a carefully crafted diet of poison and antidote from a very young age, a practice referred to as mithridatism.

Rather than killing persons now scientists are engaged in preparing a vaccine which can make u young. Like Edward Jenner, a famous vaccinologist, Paul Robbins, a professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics and an associate director of the Institute on the Biology of Aging and Metabolism at the University of Minnesota had a bright idea to make a vaccine that can successfully eliminated aging cells from the bodies helping to prolong  lives and reverse some signs of age-related disease. So far these experiments are successfully done on mice only. However, Prof Robbis think “the experiment is a step on the road to a similar vaccine for humans, but could it really work? 

This new vaccine targets senescent cells that are old and not participating actively in the functioning of the body and have stopped multiplying due to damage or stress, but don't die when they should. These cells accumulate as we age. Our immune system becomes also less efficient and not capable of clearing such cells from the body. Senescent cells release compounds that trigger inflammation and thus damage nearby healthy cells. And evidence suggests that this build up of senescent cells contributes to promote age-related diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer's and atherosclerosis.  

* Modi, Jivanji Jamshedji. “The Vish-Kanyâ or Poison - Damsels of Ancient India, Illustrated by the Story of Susan Râmashgar in the Persian Burzo-Nâmeh.” Folklore, vol. 38, no. 4, [Folklore Enterprises, Ltd., Taylor & Francis, Ltd.], 1927, pp. 324–37, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1256500. (The author has his own study and views)