A new study, from the University of East Anglia, now finds that leukaemia promotes premature ageing in healthy bone marrow cells.The findings, published in the journal Blood show that healthy bone marrow cells were prematurely aged by cancer cells around them.
While it is already known that ageing promotes cancer development, this is the first time that the reverse has been shown to be true.The study found that the aged bone marrow cells accelerated the growth and development of the leukaemia – creating a vicious cycle that fuels the disease.
The research was led by Dr Stuart Rushworth from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, in collaboration with the Earlham Institute and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (UK) and the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing in California. It was funded by the Rosetrees Trust and Norfolk’s Big C Charity.
The researchers also found the mechanism by which this process of premature ageing occurs in the bone marrow of leukaemia patients and highlights the potential impact this could have on future treatments.Speaking about it, Dr Rushworth said, “Our results provide evidence that cancer causes ageing.