Researchers said they had got closer to a “revolution in medicine” that could mean someone living to 90 but feeling like 40. Co-author James Kirkland said: “It may be possible to delay, prevent and alleviate age-related diseases as a group, instead of going after them one at a time.” In a trial at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, nine people with diabetes-linked kidney disease were given a medicine used to treat cancer and a compound found in fruits and vegetables.
The drugs resulted in a 30 percent fall in “senescent cells” in fat tissue. Levels in the blood also fell found the study, published in the journal EBioMedicine.
Senescent cells secrete damaging chemicals as people enter their 60s and have been linked to age-related conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis and dementia.
They are abundant in wrinkled skin and in cataracts and are intertwined with the ageing process.
In another recent trial, patients in their 70s with pulmonary fibrosis, a fatal lung disease, got similar drugs.
Levels of senescent cells could not be measured, because they were too ill. But their health improved, measured by tests such as being able to get out of a chair.
“This has never been seen before – this disease usually kills people within two years unless they get a lung transplant,” Dr Kirkland said.
“We increase life-span as a side effect of these drugs.
“What we’re looking for is to improve quality of life. We don’t want to have people living to 130 and feeling like they’re 130. It would be good if they could live to 90 and feel like 40.”
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