Senolytics clinical trials are emerging treatments that target an aging process to prevent or delay age-related diseases, and they are now in human trials.
Will Senolytics Clinical Trials Deliver an Anti-Aging Solution?
What Are Senolytics?
Senolytics are a category of small molecules currently being studied to ascertain whether they can be used to destroy senescent cells.
The etymology behind the word comes from “senescence,” meaning old, and “lytic” meaning destruction.
Senescent cells are those that have reached the “Hayflick limit” and can no longer divide. As we get older, a growing quantity of the body’s cells enter the senescence state and lose the power to grow.
Normal cells that surround the senescent cells also become affected, and the body becomes less capable of tissue repair. Inflammation control and protection against age-related diseases reduce, and the body becomes compromised. Those who accumulate a higher number of senescent cells seem to age more quickly, and their biological clock ticks faster. Essentially, the immune system can no longer clear senescent cells, so they accumulate with age because.
Senotherapy is an emergent scientific field that approaches aging from a cellular level. Scientists the world over are studying how to stop the development of senescence through medicinal methods and ultimately delay, alleviate, prevent, or reverse age-related diseases.
The average age for a person to contract diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, and Parkinson’s is in their mid to late 60s. If scientists can understand the pathology of age-related diseases and the process of senescence, they can reveal insights into what causes aging.
Despite there being very few clinical trials done on senolytic people, recent breakthroughs indicated what might be possible in senotherapy. The first human trials showed that certain drugs were capable of removing senescent cells, mirroring previous outcomes in mice.
Subjects diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a rare, chronic, progressive disease affecting the lungs, had better physical function having been administered senolytics.
There is currently a shortage of geriatricians or physicians who treat older adults, who have the experience to decide if these promising interventions are safe and effective. Indeed, more trials and studies will be needed to prove or disprove how effective senotherapy is.
Two drugs, Dasatinib (usually used to treat some forms of leukemia) and Quercetin (a plant flavanol), when dispensed together, may affect the number of senescent cells in some tissues in humans with diabetic kidney disease.
The drug cocktail caused selective removal of senescent cells and decreased the number of naturally occurring senescent cells. They also reduced the secretion of proinflammatory cytokine (a type of signaling molecule that is produced from immune cells that promote inflammation) in human tissue.
Senolytics Human Trials
Unity Biotechnic is the front runner in senolytic therapies and began human trials in June 2018 in the United States. The phase 1 trial involved around 40 osteoarthritic knee patients who suffer from an age-related chronic disease that causes joint pain. Using local administration of a senolytic drug to the space around the knee, they hope to treat an underlying cause of the disease.
They announced promising results from the Phase 1 study using a senolytic drug named UBX0101. Jamie Dananberg, chief medical officer of UNITY, said: “the senolytic molecule was well tolerated and had a dose-dependent improvement in pain and function across multiple clinical endpoints.”
The study revealed that the drug was well-tolerated and safe. Improvement of function and pain were observed after one dose. The change was consistent with the eradication of senescent cells and possible recovery in tissue.
Studies are ongoing, and further results are expected in the second half of 2020.
Fisetin is a flavonoid polyphenol that is found naturally in various plants, serving as a yellow coloring agent, and in fruits and vegetables like apples, cucumbers, onions, and strawberries.
Interestingly, scientists have identified fisetin as an antimitotic compound, inhibiting cell division.
Laboratory studies have revealed some life extension to simple organisms; however, it has also been shown to be reactive to tests, meaning there could be too many side effects to use any drug generated from fisetin.
Senolytic studies on mice have been successful, showing fisetin to reduce age-related diseases, increase lifespan, and reduce senescent markers in tissues.
Resveratrol is another type of natural phenol and antimicrobial, which is produced by several plants when it is under attack from pathogens like fungi or bacteria. Foods that contain resveratrol include the skins of blueberries, grapes, raspberries, and peanuts.
Despite resveratrol being a common dietary supplement, there is little high-quality evidence to prove that it has an effect on human diseases or enhances lifespan.
There is plenty of reason to be optimistic about future rejuvenation therapy, as it’s evident that something could be done to improve age-related diseases.
Over a dozen drugs have now been reported to clear senescent cells, but whether destroying senescent cells extends life is problematic, and it’s unclear about the potential side effects or permanency of cellular changes.
Effective supplements mentioned above are cheap and readily available, but scientists are still a long way off commercialization.
There are also unanswered questions about what this means for humanity. If people can live healthier for longer, the influence would be immense.
One thing is sure, senolytics are undoubtedly the next big thing in fighting age-related diseases.
Would you consider senotherapy for you or a loved one? Share your thought in the comments section below.