Mayo/Scripps team begins testing a new class of anti-aging drugs

Over time, the human body accumulates a growing number of senescent cells, cells that bear the marks of an irreversible decline and are closely linked to aging. Now a team of investigators from the Mayo Clinic and Scripps Research Institute say they have begun testing new drugs that can specifically hunt down and eliminate senescent cells in mice, opening the door to what they say could be a new class of therapeutics that promise to one day slow the human aging process.

Out of 46 drugs tested in rodents, a combination of Sprycel (the leukemia drug dasatanib) and the antihistamine quercetin proved the most effective at reversing signs of aging in mice. And the researchers say that this strategy shows promise in accomplishing the same thing for people.

"If translatable to humans--which makes sense as we were using human cells in many of the tests--this type of therapy could keep the effects of aging at bay and significantly extend the healthspan of patients," says Dr. James Kirkland, head of the Mayo Clinic Kogod Center on Aging and senior author of the study.

Senescent cells have been the focus of academic researchers for some time. The Mayo/Scripps team observes that they have a cascading effect, damaging cells that surround them as bodies age. And the scientists were bullish about the tonic impact of their combination drug, which had a lingering effect in rodents that lasted up to 7 months from one dose.

While both these drugs are approved, the investigators are quick to add that they're still a long way from the clinic. Much more work will have to be done before this strategy is tried on humans. 

- here's the release
- read the research abstract