Scientists have discovered a new class of drugs which dramatically slows the aging process by alleviating frailty symptoms, extending healthy lifespan and improving cardiac function.
The research was carried out on animal models by a group of scientists from the Mayo Clinic and the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and published in the online edition of the journal Aging Cell on March 9.
The term "senolytics" has been coined by the research team for the new drug class.
"We view this study as a big, first step toward developing treatments that can be given safely to patients to extend healthspan or to treat age-related diseases and disorders," said TSRI Professor Paul Robbins, who headed the Scripps branch of the team along with Associate Professor Laura Niedernhofer.
During the tests the scientists used two available compounds -- the cancer drug dasatinib and quercetin, which is a natural compound marketed as a supplement that is used as an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.
"When senolytic agents, like the combination we identified, are used clinically, the results could be transformative," he added.
The term “Senescent cells” is given to cells that stop dividing. These cells accumulate with age which in turn accelerates the aging process.
In mice “healthspan” is increased by getting rid of such cells. The team reasoned that discovering a way to accomplish this in humans could lead to a tremendous breakthrough.
"The prototypes of these senolytic agents have more than proven their ability to alleviate multiple characteristics associated with aging," said senior author of the new study 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."
"In animal models, the compounds improved cardiovascular function and exercise endurance, reduced osteoporosis and frailty, and extended healthspan," said Niedernhofer. "Remarkably, in some cases, these drugs did so with only a single course of treatment."
The authors warn that further testing is required before human trials begin as the drugs may have long-term side effects.