6 methods scientists are exploring to slow aging | Health, Medicine and Fitness
As we age, our cells also age and become less functional. Cellular senescence is a process in which cells lose the ability to divide and replicate. Senescent cells are resistant to cell death, so they are often called “zombie cells”. They can no longer perform a function and damage neighboring cells.
A buildup of these zombie cells is a hallmark of aging linked to the deterioration of body organs and tissues and the development of age-related diseases. In laboratory tests, eliminating these cells can improve tissue function. Although the precise role of senescent cells in aging is not yet fully understood, they play an important role in the degenerative changes in the body that occur over time.
Senolytics are a class of drugs that selectively eliminate senescent cells, which may help slow the aging process. In 2016, two separate research groups published results on the discovery of new senolytic drugswhich selectively kill senescent cells. Studies conducted by the University of Arkansas showed that the drug ABT-263 (Navitoclax) could selectively kill senescent cells and rejuvenate tissue. Scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel used a similar drug, ABT-737, to kill senescent cells in the lungs and skin of mice.
In a 2018 study led by Mayo Clinic researcher James Kirkland tested a combination of dasatinib, used to treat some forms of leukemia, and quercetin, a plant flavanol found in some fruits and vegetables. The drug combination was tested on aging mice to see if it could slow physical dysfunction caused by senescent cells. It was found to be effective, suggesting that future studies may find compounds like this that are effective in humans.