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Drug prevents premature aging after radiotherapy

artwork healthinnovatons

By NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY

A one-off treatment has been found to prevent long-term negative effects of cancer treatments

Recent research discovered that a simple, one-time treatment might prevent the long-term negative effects of cancer radiotherapies.

There are around 2 million cancer survivors in the United Kingdom, and many of them have premature memory loss and the early development of various diseases resembling premature aging, for which there is currently no cure. This is likely to be the result of toxic cancer chemotherapies and radiotherapies, which are intended to treat cancer cells but can also harm normal cells.

The researchers hoped to see whether they could prevent such damaging effects of cancer therapy by giving mice a short treatment with senolytics, a family of medications that precisely eliminate damaged cells caused by cancer therapies.

They found that the animals treated with senolytic drugs soon after radiotherapy did not develop premature aging, and the animals treated after they started suffering from premature aging also show improved health conditions subsequently.

Dr. Satomi Miwa, a lecturer at Newcastle University, who lead the research which was recently published in eLife, said: “Increasing number of people are now successfully treated for cancer, and the survival rates from many cancer types are high. The people who had beaten cancers can start looking forward to their new lives again – but only if the quality of life is not going to be affected. Sadly, this is the case for the moment. However, our new research shows that there is a way to prevent any long-term side effects occurring, and to reduce risks of cancer relapse.”

Senolytics

Senolytics are an exciting development in the biology of aging as the drugs kill senescent cells by targeting their survival mechanisms which are absent in normal cells. They have been shown to postpone or in some cases, heal age-associated diseases or disabilities in mice.

Currently, a dozen of clinical trials using different senolytic drugs in humans are underway or being registered in the US, against such conditions as pulmonary fibrosis (lung fibrosis), diabetic kidney disease, and osteoarthritis.

The group intends to continue the research as Dr. Miwa explains: “We want to test our approach in cancer types specifically and move to a clinical setting as fast as we can. We are particularly interested in childhood brain tumor survivors, as they are the worst affected group of people suffering from long-term side effects from cancer therapies.”

The study provides new hope for people who receive cancer therapies to ensure a better quality of life for the rest of their lives.

Reference: “Short senolytic or senostatic interventions rescue progression of radiation-induced frailty and premature ageing in mice” by Edward Fielder, Tengfei Wan, Ghazaleh Alimohammadiha, Abbas Ishaq, Evon Low, B Melanie Weigand, George Kelly, Craig Parker, Brigid Griffin, Diana Jurk, Viktor I Korolchuk, Thomas von Zglinicki and Satomi Miwa, 4 May 2022, eLife.
DOI: 10.7554/eLife.75492

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