Scientists may soon trial a new class of drugs that specifically aim to delay or treat ageing.
Writing in the Journal of American Geriatrics this week, doctors from the Mayo Clinic and Scripps Research Institute outline a set of new clinical trial paradigms that could be used to test the efficacy and safety of “Senolytics”, a new class of drugs that target mechanisms in the ageing process.
Senolytics target a process known as “cell senescence”, in which moribund cells begin to accumulate in different parts of the body and (in some cases) disrupt the functioning of healthy cells. Senescence is associated with failing heart health, osteoporosis, general run-of-the-mill frailty, and even cancer.
Senolytic drugs trigger a specific gene that leads cells to die a normal death and prevents them from interfering with other cell functions.
“This is one of the most exciting fields in all of medicine or science at the moment,” said Dr. James Kirkland, director of the Kogod Center on Aging at the Mayo Clinic and lead author of the new paper.
The researchers argue that the new drugs “could transform geriatric medicine by enabling prevention or treatment of multiple diseases and functional deficits in parallel, instead of one at a time”.
“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, who was not involved in the new paper.
It still remains to be shown, however, whether Senolytics can have the same effects in
humans as the have had in mice. “We will have to wait for clinical trials to
see whether this would work in humans”, Zhang said.
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