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‘Zombie’ cells may play vital role in aging process

NEW YORK — Scientists are finding evidence that so-called zombie cells play a big role in aging and the health woes that come along with it.

Animal studies suggest that killing these cells can treat a wide variety of conditions like cataracts, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and age-related loss of muscle. And a recent study in people suggests it may also help with a fatal lung condition.

Zombie cells start out as normal cells of the body. But then they encounter a problem like DNA damage. Instead of dying, they enter sort of a state of suspended animation. But they also pump out substances that harm cells around them.

Researchers have found drugs that attack zombie cells, but say that more research is needed before they can be used routinely.

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