Known as senolytics, the new medicines show capable of alleviating symptoms of frailty, improve heart function, and extend health.
Paul Robbins, professor at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida, had positive feedback about the medications as a tool in rolling back the years.
“We view this study as a big, first step toward developing treatments that can be given safely to patients to extend health span or to treat age-related diseases and disorders,” Robbins said. “When senolytic agents, like the combination we identified, are used clinically, the results could be transformative.”
Researchers conducted a study aimed at understanding the role of senescent cells, those cells that have stopped dividing, in accumulating with age and accelerate the aging process.
“The prototypes of these senolytic agents have more than proven their ability to alleviate multiple characteristics associated with aging,” said senior author and Mayo Clinic Professor James Kirkland. “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.”
Researchers used lab mice and showed that killing senescent cells resulted in mice being free of disease. The problem during experiments was identifying those cells without harming healthy cells.
Senescent cells, like cancer cells, have an increased expression of “pro-survival networks” that helps them resist the programmed cell death, or apoptosis, researchers discovered.
Addressing the situation, scientists used a cancer drug called dasatanib and quercetin, an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory, to target the senescent cells.
The combined drugs removed the cells, while leaving healthy cells untouched.
Researcher Associate Professor Laura Niedernhofer stated: “In animal models, the compounds improved cardiovascular function and exercise endurance, reduced osteoporosis and frailty, and extended health span. Remarkably, in some cases, these drugs did so with only a single course of treatment. In old mice, cardiovascular function was improved within five days of a single dose of the drugs. A single dose of a combination of the drugs led to improved exercise capacity in animals weakened by radiation therapy used for cancer. The effect lasted for at least seven months following treatment with the drugs. Periodic drug administration of mice with accelerated aging extended the health span in the animals, delaying age-related symptoms, spine degeneration and osteoporosis.”
Authors of the study mentioned more tests are needed before the drugs is used on humans because both drugs show significant side effects.