Ever wish you could reverse aging? It might be possible in the nearby future. The research team at the Mayo Clinic’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging has potentially found that a pill might hold the key to reversing the effects of aging and potentially significantly extending our lives.
What Happens When We Age?
On the surface, we might associate aging with wrinkles and moving a bit slower, but there are a lot of things that happen to our bodies that we aren’t so aware of. Some of the more common health changes that people see as they age include:
- Our memory becomes less effective and it can take longer to recall information
- Bones become smaller and less dense, and our muscles lose some of their power
- Changes to our heart, blood vessels, and arteries can lead to increased cardiovascular conditions
- Problems with both bladder control and constipation become more regular
Other seemingly random occurrences also happen to our bodies as we start to reach an advanced age, and things like less sensitive teeth, fewer taste buds, and a decrease in perspiration can all have their own effects on one’s daily life.
Aging On A Cellular Level
Deeper than the issues mentioned above, our bodies go through distinct cellular changes as we advance in age. When our cells become damaged, they often end up dying and remaining within our bodies while emitting toxic chemicals. Called senescent cells, many find they are linked to diseases that affect your organs and tissues, including:
- Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease
- Macular degeneration
- Type 2 diabetes
- Some types of cancer
If the effects of senescent cells could be mitigated somehow, it would make sense that we may not have to deal with the multiple effects of age-related diseases. That line of thinking has been explored by Dr. James Kirkland, director at the Kogod Center. His team has worked to create senolytic drugs, agents that target senescent cells and kill them.
Early Lab Experiments
Like many of the pharmaceuticals on today’s market, these new drugs are being tested on animals to determine the safety and efficacy of their potential power. The research began with mice and proved that by administering senolytic drugs, the rodents exhibited far less frail bone structures than before. Not only did it help with their skeletal mass, but Dr. Kirkland also found that their vascular system improved, and as a whole, their lives were extended as a result of the drugs.
Making the leap over to human testing is, of course, a large challenge, and the team at Mayo Clinic is hopeful that future testing groups could include individuals who are in the advanced stages of a fatal disease or those who are affected by conditions where there is no known cure.
Some companies believe so strongly in senolytic drugs that they are devoting their entire workforce toward making these treatments a reality. One such group, Unity Biotechnology, wants to be first in line once FDA approval has been obtained for this revolutionary science.
What Can We Do In The Meantime?
Whether you’d like to reverse the effects of aging well before senolytic drugs become available, or you’re just not sure about the science behind it, there are practical steps you can take to help maintain your longevity:
- A positive state of mind can help you become more active when physical limitations might dictate otherwise
- Trying out a new daily routine can help to keep your brain more alert
- Weight training can help to increase your strength and make you less susceptible to injuries
- Eating a balanced diet, including fresh fruits, vegetables, and plenty of water will go a long way
- Get a full 8 hours of sleep every night
If clinical trials continue moving in a positive direction, it might not be long before we see senolytic drugs on the market. Many large technology companies are trying to get in on the ground level of this scientific breakthrough, which just might be an indication that fighting senescent cells is the wave of the future.