Posted on Sep 06, 2019, 3 p.m.
If clinical trials prove to be successful anti-aging drugs could be on the market within the next 5 years according to Dr. Doug Wilson who recently had an interview aired on TV via OneNewsNow in New Zealand. Rather than living forever, living healthier for longer is a more realistic anti-aging and longevity goal.
In the interview he explains how a simple treatment may one day be able to delay the aging process and all of the ailments that are associated with it, this may even be available within as little as 5-12 years. Expert on the aging process and age related conditions, Dr. Wilson, says that trials involving senolytics have been successful in animals to make them live longer. The upcoming human clinical trials may not be able to stop the aging process, but it is going to interfere with them.
Senolytic drugs interfere with zombie senescent cells in the body that accumulate over time and are harmful. “The senescent cells are kind of ornery - they reach the end of their working life, they stop functioning, and instead of allowing themselves to be digested and disposed of, they sit around, release factors and produce inflammation, so they may represent five or 10 or 15 percent of the cells of a particular tissue, but they're all the ones that cause all the trouble,” explains Wilson.
"So in the last two or three years, people have been investigating what happens if you get rid of the senescent cells – and there are medications and chemicals that are around today – that appear selectively to knock them off." he adds. Mice studies have shown killing off these zombie cells results in significant improvements.
Medications or chemicals are currently being used for other purposes that appear to have the ability to be "selectively knocking off the senescent cells, and people are doing that and now they're trying clinical studies … and they seem to be getting some clinical improvement, but whether that’s going to translate into a broader extension remains to be seen".
"The important aspect of this is that there are other chemicals, other medications out there which are already being investigated for their impact on slowing down ageing, and the reason why slowing down ageing is important is we have a number of diseases that are closely associated with ageing – dementia, diabetes, heart stroke, cancer, Parkinson's disease – and the thought is if you can slow down the ageing process, can you benefit each of these diseases and turn them into something that can be now managed far better than before. "If you can improve the healthspan of those folk by intervening – and if one drug will treat the multiple diseases – then that's a great outcome." says Wilson.
There are positive and negative outcomes in people having extended healthspans. "It may be that a number of these other drugs in use targeting different things, some senescent cells, and one drug is showing that you can improve the immunity against infections in older individuals – older people – and you can, in fact, boost their response to vaccination, and at the same time, if you can reduce their resistance to getting pneumonia, then you're improving their healthspan from that sort of perspective ... but the question we do have is a social question. Our demographics are changing so fast that it's almost unbelievable," he said. One extreme example is Japan, where the number of centenarians jumped from 120 in the early 1960s to 70,000 last year.”
Simply having a pill to kill off these zombie cells maybe able to improve healthspan, but it must be paired with a healthy lifestyle which includes following a healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, and maintain good in person relationships. "All those things are important, because our ageing starts to plug in early on, so our cells are programmed, we age."
According to Wilson one who is in their 30s is already "10 years past your peak for some things, like computer games … so already, parts of your physiology is starting to decay a little, so that means, in fact, all the activities you’ve suggested – before exercise, diet and all of that – do play a part, and the earlier you bring those things into play, the more likely you are to extend the healthspan".
Most are afraid to age "because they lose control, they lose independence, and they lose relevance, and losing relevance becomes kind of tricky. The most powerful indicator or activity that can improve our long-term healthspan and outcome are personal relationships - social relationships are important but personal relationships between, say, a spouse or a partner or close friends – have greater impact in terms of feeling better, looking positive about life, feeling happier and having a better outcome. These social interventions – the psychological way we approach this – becomes very important."
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.