Senolytics, a new class of drugs, has the potential to unlock the fountain of youth, at least in animals for now.
The mythical fountain of youth, which is said to restore a person's youth by drinking the water or bathing in it, has long been spoken about. While the fountain of youth is still to be found, scientists are in the process of developing a drug that can slow aging and potentially improve a person's lifespan.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic, The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and other institutions claim that senolytics has shown promising results in animal models. The new drug alleviates the symptoms of frailty and also improves cardiac function. Both these benefits have the potential to extend one's lifespan.
Paul Robbins, a professor at TSRI's Department of Metabolism and Aging, who led the research, suggests that senolytics is the first step in developing treatments that boost health and also treat disorders and diseases related to aging.
"The prototypes of these senolytic agents have more than proven their ability to alleviate multiple characteristics associated with aging," said James Kirkland, a professor at the Mayo Clinic, who is a senior author of the latest study. "It may eventually become feasible to delay, prevent, alleviate or even reverse multiple chronic diseases and disabilities as a group, instead of just one at a time."
The researchers explain that senescent cells, which stop dividing and accumulate over time, accelerate aging in a person. The lifespan of lab mice is improved when these cells are killed with senolytics. However, senolytics also secrete some substances that damage other cells in the body. Scientists have been trying to find a way that would identify and target senescent cells without any detrimental effects on other cells.
The researchers gave dasatinib, a cancer drug that is sold as Sprycel, and quercetin, which is a nutritional supplement that has anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties, to old lab mice. This class of the combined drug is called senolytics. Its main aim in the experiment was to kill the senescent cells in the mice without damaging other cells.
The researchers found that the heart function and exercise capability of the mice improved within five days. The results lasted about seven months in the mice.
Authors of the study suggest that further work is needed in the field before clinical trials on humans can be conducted since both drugs have long-term side effects.
The study was published in the journal Aging Cell.
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