We’ve been able to inject tiny, strategically placed particles into the body to stave off age-related conditions. Now scientists have been able to turn back the clock on “aging” cells to prevent cancer in mice.

Taken together, the findings suggest that high doses of the human enzyme domino kappa B may keep cancer-prone cells from growing uncontrollably. The researchers also showed that activation of the gene may be able to combat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Tianyu Wang and colleagues at Washington University in St. Louis found that younger mice with an aberrant kappa B gene started to develop a more aggressive form of the tumor cells of elderly mice, even when both groups were on an anti-cancer drug. By genetically altering the genes of the mice and injecting them with kappa B, the team made the cells behave like the aging mice’s.

The mice showed a 30 percent reduction in tumor formation and an almost 50 percent reduction in tumor progression. The team also found that blocking one of the mature kappa B genes slowed both the expression of the aberrant gene and the progression of tumor cells.

“We think kappa B may be particularly well-suited to help fight against cancer because of its ability to make kappa beta synthase, the enzyme that makes tumour cells more malignant,” said Dr. Wang.

The results will be published online in the journal Nature Biotechnology.