Anti-aging drugs effectively slow spinal disc degeneration in mice

September 6, 2021
Anti-aging drugs effectively slow spinal disc degeneration in mice

Senolytic drugs, part of a new class of anti-aging medication, has been found to prevent age-related deterioration of spinal discs in animal experiments. Senolytic drugs work by removing destructive senescent cells which accumulate in all living tissues with age, essentially accelerating the aging process. Recent research findings by regenerative medicine and biomedical engineering specialists are hoped to guide more functional treatments – particularly for back pain –using senolytic drugs, as well as improve the human healthspan, or the amount of our lives we spend healthy.

Age-related back pain is a common ailment and one in direct conflict with the idea of a lengthy healthspan: chronic back pain afflicting adults is tied to the deterioration of spinal discs that offer support for the vertebrae. Surgery and steroid injections may treat back pain caused by disc degeneration; however prolonged use of opioid-based injections, especially, run the risk of addiction.

Read also: Pay attention to spine ergonomics to avoid neck and back pain

Dr. Makarand Risbud, Co-director of the cell biology and regenerative medicine graduate programmeatThomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, US, and colleagues have shown that treatment with a cocktail of senolytic drugs promises “a novel preventative approach” to spinal disc degeneration in mice.

In the experiments, young, middle-aged, and elderly mice were all injected weekly with senolytic drugs consisting of dasatinib and quercetin. The two drugs are currently the subject of clinical trials for treating scarred lung tissue.At the end, the treatment did indeed have an effect, albeit unexpected.

It was anticipated that the drugs would have the most profound effect on the older animals with larger concentrations of senescent cells, but it was the younger animals that experienced the greatest benefit. These, along with the middle-aged mice, showed less disc degeneration and featured fewer senescent cells by the time they reached old age than a group of control mice given a placebo.

“We anticipated that in tissues with a lot of senescence, removing the senescent cells would make a big difference, but it didn’t,” admittedDr. Risbud. “The therapy was most effective when we started treating the mice when those senescent cells were just beginning to emerge. Our findings show that if given early, senolytic drugs can [actually] slow disc degeneration.”

While the data showed that the drug cocktail is well-tolerated in mice, Dr. Risbud expects human recipients to need the drug injections over a longer period for it to be effective.

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Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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