The Case of the Incredibly Long-Lived Mouse Cells


In a bizarre experiment, scientists kept the rodents’ immune T cells active four times longer than mice can live—with huge implications for cancer, vaccination, and aging research.

DAVID MASOPUST HAS long imagined how to push immune systems to their limits—how to rally the most powerful army of protective cells. But one of the big mysteries of immunology is that so far, nobody knows what those limits are. So he hatched a project: to keep mouse immune cells battle-ready as long as possible. “The idea was, let’s keep doing this until the wheels fall off the bus,” says Masopust, a professor of immunology at the University of Minnesota.

But the wheels never fell off. He was able to keep those mouse cells alive longer than anyone thought possible—indeed, much longer than the mice themselves.

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