A new class of drugs has reportedly been shown to help you live a longer, healthier life by alleviating symptoms of frailty and improving cardiac function... at least in animal models, according to a new study.

Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Mayo Clinic and other institutions are credited with identifying the new drugs, called "senolytics."

"We view this study as a big, first step toward developing treatments that can be given safely to patients to extend healthspan or to treat age-related diseases and disorders," TSRI Professor Paul Robbins, who led the research, said in a news release. "When senolytic agents, like the combination we identified, are used clinically, the results could be transformative."

The team hopes that one day the new class of drugs could "delay, prevent, alleviate or even reverse" various chronic diseases and disabilities.

The key to longevity is in senescent cells, or cells that have stopped dividing, which accumulate with age and speed up the aging process. So scientists set out to identify and target senescent cells without damaging other cells in the process. In their research, using transcript analysis, they found that senescent cells can resist cell death. Like cancer cells, they have increased expression of "pro-survival networks" that help them accomplish this.

Using this knowledge, the team homed in on the cancer drug dasatinib and quercetin, a natural compound used as an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory, both of which successfully killed senescent cells.

"In animal models, the compounds improved cardiovascular function and exercise endurance, reduced osteoporosis and frailty, and extended healthspan," said researcher Laura Niedernhofer. "Remarkably, in some cases, these drugs did so with only a single course of treatment."

The effect lasted for at least seven months following treatment with the drugs, extending the healthspan in the animals, delaying age-related symptoms, spine degeneration and osteoporosis.

It should be noted that both drugs have side effects when used over the long term, and much more research is needed before they can be used as treatments in humans.

The findings were published in the journal Aging Cell.

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