Average life span in the United States continues to increase, but the average “health span”—the length of time a person lives in generally good health—hasn’t necessarily kept pace. Now Mayo Clinic and Scripps Research Institute scientists are calling for human clinical trials of the first class of drugs specifically designed to treat aging and prolong health span, Quartz reported.
As people age, some of their cells stop replicating due to chromosome damage. These senescent cells accumulate in different tissues throughout the body and contribute to a host of age-related diseases. But a new class of drugs, “senolytics,” induces the death of senescent cells and has delayed, prevented, or alleviated age-related conditions such as cardiac and vascular disease, diabetes, fatty liver, osteoporosis, degeneration of spinal disks, and pulmonary fibrosis in animal trials.
The drugs might enable doctors to treat multiple diseases at once. “If senolytics …prove to be effective and safe in clinical trials, they could transform geriatric medicine,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in September. —J.B.