An anti-aging therapy could be one step closer; in a new study, researchers reveal how a peptide led to the destruction of cells that play a role in aging, reversing fur loss, kidney damage, and frailty in mice.

The research describes how the peptide stops levels of a protein called FOXO4 from increasing in senescent cells, which are cells that lose the ability to replicate and destroy themselves, but which remain metabolically active.

Senescent cells accumulate with age, and studies have shown that they can contribute to the aging process by causing damage to neighboring cells and impairing tissue function.

Previous research has shown that in senescent cells, levels of FOXO4 rise to prevent another protein called p53 from prompting the cells’ self-destruction.

By blocking FOXO4 with the peptide, the research team has been able to restore programmed cell death, or apoptosis, in senescent cells.