According to a story from Medical Xpress, a collaborative team of scientists from UT Health San Antonio, the Mayo Clinic, and the Wake Forest School of Medicine, have recently released a study detailing the potential of a unique class of drugs called senolytics as a treatment for the rare, deadly lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. These drugs have a unique mechanism of action that may give patients with this disease a better chance in the future.
About Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a deadly, chronic, progressive lung disease which is characterized by lung tissue scarring, leading to a decline in lung function over time. The cause of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is unknown. With that being said, there are a few risk factors that have been identified, such as smoking cigarettes, exposure to various dusts (metal, wood, stone, and coal dust), occupations related to farming, family history, and potentially certain viral infections. Symptoms include shortness of breath, a dry cough, a distinctive crackling sound detected with a stethoscope, oxygen deficiency in the blood, and clubbed digits. There are few treatment options that can have a significant impact on the progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Treatment may include certain medications, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, and lung transplant. Early intervention can make a major difference in outcomes; five year survival rate is between 20 and 40 percent. To learn more about idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, click here.
Senolytics are intended to target cells undergoing a process called senescence. These cells, when damaged, begin to become toxic to the cells that surround them instead of dying off. This harmful process has been linked to a number of age-related illnesses, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is one of them. Early studies indicated that senolytic drugs could clear these cells in a mouse model of the disease without damaging healthy cells.
Encouraging Study Results
A study comprised of 14 adult patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis saw these patients receive two different types of senolytics, called quercetin and dasatinib. The drugs were taken for three days in a row per week for a total of three weeks. Most patients saw their mobility improve by more than five percent. This is encouraging as no other drugs commonly used for the disease were able to restore or even consistently stabilize movement ability.
While more, larger scale research will be necessary, these results suggest that senolytics could be the next breakthrough in treating idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Check out the original study here.