Aging Gracefully

Dr. Paul Robbins

Even those in tip-top shape are not immune to aging. Working with the Mayo Clinic and other institutions, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter have discovered new drugs that, in animal models, decelerate the aging process. Known as senolytics, this class of compounds kills senescent cells, which are cells that have stopped dividing and that accumulate as one grows older. By targeting senescent cells, senolytics alleviate frailty, improve cardiac function, and elongate a healthy lifespan. “We view this study as a big first step toward developing treatments that can be given safely to patients to extend health span or to treat age-related diseases and disorders,” Dr. Paul Robbins, a Scripps professor who led the study, says in a statement.

   Scripps researchers’ interest in extending lifespans includes disease prevention. They’ve published two findings regarding diabetes and HIV. In March, they announced they’d successfully tested a compound, SR1001, that prevents type 1 diabetes in animal models. This study illustrates a new chapter in the prevention of type 1 diabetes, which affects 1.25 million Americans.

   At more than 1.2 million, the number of Americans living with HIV infection is almost equal to that of type 1 diabetes. Scripps scientists have developed a new drug that might work as an unconventional vaccine for the disease. Studies have shown that this protein blocks every strain of HIV, protecting against high doses of the virus that occur in most human transmissions for at least eight months following injection.

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