A red-hot anti-aging strategy quietly passed its first test earlier this year after 14 volunteers took drugs meant to kill off old, toxic cells in their bodies.
The small study in people with lung disease, reported in January, is being billed as the first attempt at “senolytics,” or employing drugs to clear people’s bodies of aged, toxic cells. Some researchers think this strategy could eventually be employed in healthy people to delay aging.
“This gives us to some extent a green light to go on to larger trials,” says James Kirkland, a Mayo Clinic professor who helped lead the trial, carried out in clinics in Texas and at Wake Forest University starting in 2016.
Patients took two pills that Kirkland and his colleagues believed could selectively get rid of aged cells: the leukemia drug dasatinib and a supplement called quercetin.
It is early days for drugs meant to slow aging, and some breathed a sigh of relief that patients in this first-of-a-kind study didn’t suffer serious side-effects from the drugs. “My worry is we should not leap into this too fast, because if there’s a mistake or something we don’t understand, it could set the field back,” says Judith Campisi, a professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California.
This was a pilot trial—not even in the first phase of a three-part sequence of trials needed to win approval by the US Food and Drug Administration. So, officially, it showed nothing about aging at all.
All 14 patients suffered from a fatal, hard-to-treat lung condition called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which explains why they were willing to participate in the experiment. The doctors found that nine doses of the two pills over three weeks did seem to improve patients’ ability to walk a bit farther in the same amount of time, and several other measures of well-being.
A bubble of commercial enthusiasm has been building around the idea that aging could be postponed, or its effects tempered, using drug treatments. A company called Unity Biotechnology of Brisbane, California, is developing two senolytic drugs, the first of which is in a phase 1 clinical trial for osteoarthritis—it’s being injected into people’s knees. Campisi is a cofounder of Unity, and Kirkland also holds shares in the public company, which is currently worth about half a billion dollars.
Image Credit: James Kirkland, Mayo Clinic professor. Mayo Clinic
News This Week
For almost two decades, Stanford electrical engineering professor Krishna Shenoy and neuroscientists in his Neural Prosthetics Translational Laboratory have been working on implantable brain sensors that allow them to record and decipher the electrical [...]
In an incredible first, scientists have captured the world's first actual photo of quantum entanglement - a phenomenon so strange, physicist Albert Einstein famously described it as 'spooky action at a distance'. The image [...]
A team at Flinders University in South Australia has developed a new vaccine believed to be the first human drug in the world to be completely designed by artificial intelligence (AI). While drugs have [...]
Humans routinely send spacecraft into orbit to ensure services on the ground and to explore other planets. This extraordinary ability comes with a great responsibility: our space activity risks contaminating the space surrounding the [...]
Digital information technology has made information readily accessible to practically anyone, anytime and anywhere. This has had a profound effect in shaping all aspects of our society from industrial manufacturing, to distribution, to the [...]
The ways in which the communities of bacteria living within our bodies influence our overall well-being are becoming better understood all the time, and with that better understanding comes potential new ways to intervene [...]
Cancer breakthrough: Scientists discover a new Achilles’ Heel of tumors that causes them to self-destruct
Scientists have identified the Achilles' Heel of cancerous tumors, forcing the disease-spreading cells to over-stress and self-destruct. Experiments showed blocking a specific protein that fuels tumors kills them off. The technique worked on a [...]
Researchers at Oregon State University have developed an improved technique for using magnetic nanoclusters to kill hard-to-reach tumors. Magnetic nanoparticles - tiny pieces of matter as small as one-billionth of a meter - [...]
Plant leaves have a natural superpower — they’re designed with water repelling characteristics. Called a superhydrophobic surface, this trait allows leaves to cleanse themselves from dust particles. Inspired by such natural designs, a [...]
In a grainy black-and-white video shot at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, a patient sits in a hospital bed, his head wrapped in a bandage. He’s trying to recall 12 words for a memory [...]
From Frontiers Forum: How can research translate to R&D? Or a whole new business venture? In a panel session at Science Unlimited 2019, Holtzbrinck Publishing Group CEO Stefan von Holtzbrinck, Life Biosciences CEO [...]
More and more security holes are appearing in cryptocurrency and smart contract platforms, and some are fundamental to the way they were built. Early last month, the security team at Coinbase noticed something strange [...]
“The most crucial result of this work is the correlation between form and function in supercapacitor materials,” states first author Dina Ibrahim Abouelamaiem. She elaborates that “our research is driven by the need for [...]