Like death, taxes, and our president tweeting something controversial, aging is a something that’s inevitable. As we grow older, time seems to accelerate and with every passing day, more sore joints and achy body parts seem to arise. However, a handful of researchers dedicated to slowing down the aging process might have made a landmark breakthrough. A new type of senolytic drug just might do the trick when it comes to the aging process. The researchers, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, are calling for senolytic drugs to make the leap from animal research to human clinical trials. They outlined potential clinical trial scenarios in a paper published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on Monday. These drugs could eventually lead the way towards an entire aging revolution that could transform the field of medicine.
What are Senolytic Drugs?
Senolytic drugs are essentially a type of drug that attacks the senescent cells. These cells, which multiply over time, are basically cells that have stopped working within the body and become toxic. These are cells that have stopped dividing and secrete toxic chemicals that damage adjacent cells. Accumulation of senescent cells, which increases with age, is associated with chronic conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, most cancers, dementia, arthritis, osteopetrosis, and frailty. However, senolytic drugs will target the dead cells, eliminating them from your body so that it rids itself of the toxins and begins to grow more working, healthier cells.
Researchers at Mayo Clinic’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging developed the first senolytic drugs to target these harmful cells. In a recent study led by The Scripps Research Institute, Mayo Clinic researchers and others confirmed that the senolytic drugs discovered at Mayo effectively clear senescent cells while leaving normal cells unaffected. These drugs have the potential to severely stop the aging process as well as prevent a variety of different diseases and ailments.
The next step for senolytic drugs would be to undergo human trials, which are on the horizon. The researchers wrote that potential clinical trial scenarios include testing whether senolytic drugs could alleviate multiple chronic diseases in a single patient or whether such drugs could treat conditions that involve senescent cell accumulation in one location in the body, such as osteoarthritis. These researchers are currently in the process of submitting a proposal that will be reviewed by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If approved, they will then begin conducting human clinical trials that could lead to a change in the medical landscape.
“I think senolytic drugs have a great future. If it is proven that it can reduce senescent cells and rejuvenate tissues or organs, it may be one of our potential best treatments for age-related diseases,” said Dr. Kang Zhang, founding director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.
While this is an exciting development when it comes to aging health, it’s still going to be a long process before we see any drugs hitting the market. Researchers say that doctors could have an idea of how well senolytic drugs work for serious health conditions in about a year and a half or two years. Once the drugs are tested in humans, researchers expect many companies to be lining up to develop or manufacture senolytic drugs. Some have already expressed interest. Researchers will need to find seniors as well as geriatricians to participate in the study, as well as show results that indicate a significant improvement and health with little or no side effects. While the discovery is significant, this will still be something to keep an eye on as the process continues.