A red-hot anti-aging strategy quietly passed its first test earlier this year after 14 volunteers took drugs meant to kill off old, toxic cells in their bodies.
The small study in people with lung disease, reported in January, is being billed as the first attempt at “senolytics,” or employing drugs to clear people’s bodies of aged, toxic cells. Some researchers think this strategy could eventually be employed in healthy people to delay aging.
Patients took two pills that [researcher James] Kirkland and his colleagues believed could selectively get rid of aged cells: the leukemia drug dasatinib and a supplement called quercetin.
It is early days for drugs meant to slow aging, and some breathed a sigh of relief that patients in this first-of-a-kind study didn’t suffer serious side-effects from the drugs.
All 14 patients suffered from a fatal, hard-to-treat lung condition called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which explains why they were willing to participate in the experiment. The doctors found that nine doses of the two pills over three weeks did seem to improve patients’ ability to walk a bit farther in the same amount of time, and several other measures of well-being.
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