It was revealed by a recent study that a new class of drugs, called senolytics dramatically slows down the aging process in mice and scientists believe that the results could very well be applicable to humans.
The research was conducted by scientists from the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and published in the journal Aging Cell.
The researchers have identified a new class of drugs that dramatically slows down the aging process, improves cardiac function and reduces the symptoms of frailty in mice. Dubbed senolytics, the new class of drugs have the potential to keep the effects of aging at bay and significantly extend the lifespan and health span of patients.
Senolytics work by targeting and killing senescent cells, which are aging related, without doing any kind of damage to other nearby cells.
These senescent cells simply stop dividing as people age. What makes them the villain is the fact that they accumulate in body tissues and secrete proteins that cause damage to otherwise healthy tissues and cells, which translates into speeding aging process and playing a major role in the development of age-related illnesses.
Professor Paul Robbins, lead author of the study and Doctor Laura Niedernhofer already knew the purpose of senescent cells and what killing them would do on the body of mice and hypothesized that it would have the same effect on humans.
What they didn’t have is a way of killing the senescent cells without harming the surrounding cells. They found that these cells, like cancer cells, have a method of simply resisting programmed cell death (apoptosis), so they tried out several drugs to see which ones would work to destroy them.
The researchers tested 46 drugs on human senescent cells (in culture) and they found that two drugs showed promise: an antihistamine supplement called quercetin and a cancer drug called dasatinib. The scientists found that when used together, the two drugs induced cell death in senescent cells.
Following the trials on human cells, the team tested the combination of drugs in mice and they found that the senolytics drugs boosted exercised endurance, reduced osteoporosis, significantly improved cardiovascular function and dramatically extended the mice’s lifespan.
Dr. Kirkland is very optimistic about the results translating into humans. He concludes:
If translatable to humans – which makes sense as we were using human cells in many of the tests – this type of therapy could keep the effects of aging at bay and significantly extend the health span of patients.
The researchers say that even though the two drugs are approved for separate use in humans, further testing is needed to determine if the combination of the two is safe to use. They add that the drugs may have side effects, especially if used long term.
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