Drugs to Slow Aging are a Matter of When, Not If

It is pleasing to see this sort of article emerging from a university publicity group - a part of the necessary trend within the scientific community towards making it acceptable and desirable to talk about extending human life through biotechnology. The silence of the research community on this topic across past decades was very harmful to the prospects for progress and funding in the field of aging research and longevity science.

That said, it is problematic that the vast majority of resources and researchers presently focus on modestly slowing aging rather than trying to repair and reverse the causes of aging. Based on what we know today, it is probably harder to safely adjust metabolism to slow down aging than it is to repair the root causes of aging to restore a metabolism back to its youthful state. Further, slowing aging is of no use to old people, whereas repair based approaches are useful - and given that people in middle age today will be old by the earliest possible time that therapies might emerge, it won't be all that great if all those therapies can do is slow down the progression of aging.

So more work on SENS and similar repair-based strategies, and less fiddling around with calorie restriction mimetics, longevity genes, and the like, is what we need to see if there is to be an effective near-term lengthening of human life. That result has to be based on rejuvenation, not slowing of aging.

Evidence is accumulating that not only is it possible to slow down aging, but that by doing so the onset and progression of multiple age-related diseases can be delayed. "Slowing aging should increase both lifespan and healthspan - the period of life spent in relatively good health, free from chronic disease or disability. A shared feature of most medically relevant diseases is that your risk of dying from them increases dramatically as you get older. Unlike traditional approaches, which tend to focus on a specific disease, targeting the aging process itself has a much greater potential to improve human health."

Many experts in the biology of aging believe that pharmacological interventions to slow aging are a matter of 'when' rather than 'if'. A leading target for such interventions is the nutrient response pathway defined by mTOR, a protein that controls cell growth. "Inhibition of this pathway extends lifespan in model organisms and confers protection against a growing list of age-related pathologies. Characterized inhibitors of this pathway are already clinically approved, and others are under development. Although adverse side effects currently preclude use in otherwise healthy individuals, drugs that target the mTOR pathway could one day become widely used to slow aging and reduce age-related pathologies in humans."

Link: http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/02/21/drugs-to-slow-aging-are-a-matter-of-when-not-if/

Comments

mTOR, nf-kappaB and "inflammaging" look like the low hanging fruit.

Also very interesting are some agents that both protect the aging brain, as well as enhance cognition, e.g., angiotensin-4 ---

"Prospective Alzheimer's Drug Builds New Brain Cell Connections, Improves Cognitive Function of Rats" ('...it would take 10 million times as much BDNF to get as much new synapse formation...')
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121011090653.htm

"Cognitive-enhancing effects of angiotensin IV"
http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2202/9/S2/S15

"Brain renin-angiotensin system in cognitive function: pre-clinical findings and implications for prevention and treatment of dementia"
http://www.actaneurologica.be/acta/download/2009-3/02-Ciobica%20et%20al.pdf

Posted by: Lou Pagnucco at February 22nd, 2013 1:40 PM

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