Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, a medical research centre based in Minnesota, US, have developed anti-ageing drugs called ‘senolytics’ which can wash away senescent cells – otherwise known as zombie cells as they no longer work to their full potential. These senescent cells are then replaced by newer cells which can help slow down the ageing process, scientists found. Researchers at the clinic have been running experiments on mice and found their life had been extended by 36 percent, which is the equivalent of adding around 30 years to a human life.
Clinical geriatrician Dr James Kirkland, Director of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Ageing at Mayo Clinic, told the Telegraph: “Most people don’t want to live to 130 and feel like they’re 130 but they wouldn’t mind living to 90 or 100 and feel like they’re 60. And now that can actually be achieved in animals.
“Ageing itself is the highest risk factor for most of the chronic diseases. And if you get one age-related disease, you’ve got a huge chance of having several.
“You tend to find older individuals who are completely healthy and are playing 18 rounds of golf a day, or they’ve got three, five or 10 different conditions. There aren’t too many people in between.
“Around 10 years ago we began to explore the notion that ageing may be an upstream cause of all of these conditions and not only be a risk factor but could actually be causal.
“And therefore if you targeted fundamental ageing processes it might be possible to delay, prevent or alleviate these chronic conditions as a group instead of going after them one at a time.
“It’s much more like developing an antibiotic. Antibiotics will treat 25 different conditions, we’re trying to do the same thing.”
Certain sections of researchers want to class ageing as a disease, due to the way it breaks down and destroys cells in the same way regular diseases do.
Ageing damage passes through cells, a process known as cellular senescence, a process which also happens with the likes of cancer, eventually leading to tissue dysfunction and related health impacts – or put simply, getting old.
Older cells are less able to turn genes on and off to react to the environment which makes us more vulnerable to diseases which ultimately kill us off.
Researchers believe the drug could be available to the market in as little as two years.