New drugs may slow aging process
A team of scientists says that a new class of drugs has been able to slow the aging process in mice, and that that could lead to treatments which might significantly prolong human life.
The research team, which included scientists from the Scripps Research Institute and the Mayo Clinic, studied the effect of new drugs called senolytics. They get their name from senescent cells, which stop dividing as we age and accumulate in body tissues, damaging surrounding healthy cells. Senescent cells have been found to speed up the aging process and play a major role in the development of age-related diseases.
For the study, published in the journal Aging Cell, researchers tested 46 drugs on human senescent cells in the lab and found two that were promising: a cancer drug called dasatinib and an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory supplement called quercetin. When the two drugs were combined, the scientists found that senescent cells were successfully removed while no apparent damage was done to surrounding healthy cells. When tested on mice, researchers determined that the combination improved heart function and endurance, while reducing osteoporosis and frailty – ultimately increasing the lifespan of the mice, sometimes with just a single dose.
The effects of these drugs lasted for seven months during their tests, and researchers are hopeful that identifying these drugs is a big first step in tackling age-related diseases. They acknowledge that more tests need to be done to see if the drug combination causes harmful side effects, particularly if used over an extended period of time.