Hot Topics in Preventative Aging
I am so excited to share a brief summary of what I have learned in researching this article! We are on the verge of living much longer, healthier lives. Yes, there are jade rollers and K beauty masks, questions about vitamin D levels, and pollution particles. There are tricks to making everything look better, smoother, tighter, and more youthful. However, there is something more that science has in store for us. A systemic answer to aging. This way our organs and brain and skin can remain youthful and vibrant much longer.
If you are concerned about aging, you are not alone. The billionaires of the world are investing big in the future of longevity. Not just longevity, they say. Not just your lifespan but your “healthspan,” which is more important. What we want is a long, healthy, functional life. Calico, Juvenescence, and Unity Biotechnology are three examples of large companies dedicated to finding the holy grail. The great news is that they are making progress! The latest concepts of systemic and skin anti-aging are as follows.
Senolytics: Literally, this is Latin for “breaking aging apart!” Senolytics are a class of drugs being studied for the purpose of reversing symptoms of aging. There are a number of drugs, some familiar and some unfamiliar, with the ability to reverse signs of aging in various creatures. Quercitin, which is in your Emergen-C packet, and Azithromycin, from your last Z-Pak, are the two most familiar ones. There are other antibiotics and some biologics that also affect aging pathways.
Studies are being conducted at Harvard Medical School, Yale, Mayo Clinic, and University of Texas. The way these drugs work is to kill off senescent, or dying/dysfunctional cells, so that the exuberant healthy cells can predominate. It turns out that this can alleviate multiple age-related conditions, chronic diseases, geriatric syndromes, and frailty. Studies have shown that lifespan and healthspan increases are definitely possible in animals. This is promising news for all of us!
Hypoglycemics: This means “low sugar” in Latin. Medicines and supplements that reduce blood sugar and therefore reduce insulin release have been shown to increase lifespan. It is possible that hypoglycemic drugs provide anti-aging benefits by reducing the effects of glycation of the tissues in the body. Glycation is the process by which sugar byproducts attach themselves to organs and vessels and skin and essentially harden them. This is a mild version of the complications that diabetic organs suffer. At any rate, low-carb diets, very low-calorie diets, and hypoglycemic drugs all prevent sugar spikes in the bloodstream and have all been shown to contribute to longevity.
Metformin is the most widely prescribed oral hypoglycemic medication for type 2 diabetes worldwide. Metformin also slows down aging in model organisms and reduces the incidence of aging-related diseases such as neurodegenerative disease and cancer in humans. In spite of its widespread use, the mechanisms by which metformin slows aging remain largely unknown. Further, not all individuals prescribed metformin derive the same benefit and some develop side effects. There is more yet to be learned about this drug and how it works before it becomes mainstream, however we are on the path of discovery about sugar, glycation, and aging.
Young plasma transfusions: The lore about vampires may have been more than just horror stories. There appears be some signal in blood serum that tells cells how old they are and how old they should act. This was discovered in quite a macabre way when the blood supply of two rodents was connected and the older rat began to show signs of youthfulness, both external and internal. When the rodents were separated, their respective ages and appearances returned. This experiment is called parabiosis and has been reproduced in various institutions.
The idea of blood transfusions to humans from young donors in order to reverse signs of aging was born from this. Whole blood transfusions are risky so young plasma transfusions are being studied. The company Ambrosia specializes in this but plasma transfusions have risks and the positive effects are difficult to measure. The hope is that we can isolate factors in plasma and blood that signal healthy cell proliferation so that we can effect anti-aging parabiosis-like results without transfusions.
Stem cells: Stem-cell therapy is somewhat old news, however we must keep in mind that due to U.S. regulations, the full gamut of possibilities with regards to anti-aging is not being explored here. Sites in Panama and Chile and various other countries where regulations are not as strict are currently conducting treatments and studies. Patients who travel for these treatments report a feeling of well-being and a decrease in aches and pains all over the body. There is an ocean of knowledge still to be discovered about stem cells and how we can harness them.
It is important to note that stem cells with different genetic content than your own will not function in your body. Your immune system is designed to seek out and kill foreign cells. However, there are some great strides being made using one’s own stem cells. It is important to note that adding cells to the body could eventually lead to a big load of senescent cells later on. These could possibly “turn” on you and signal accelerated aging. Regardless, science is moving us toward a better understanding so these questions will be elucidated soon.
My joy is to make people look and feel better. Most of the time, looking “better” correlates with looking younger. After years of practice, I have become adept at ridding people of wrinkles, brown spots, broken blood vessels, and skin cancers and unwanted growths that show up, as well as tightening and firming loose skin. What is exciting is to realize that there is other very advanced experimentation going on to help prevent and reverse aging of the entire body, inside and out. Until these experimental concepts come to fruition, I am here for you. Take heart! I always say, “One day, age won’t matter.”
The statements in this article are for general informational purposes only and do not substitute for individual medical advice.
By Anna Guanche, MD, FAAD
Board-Certified Celebrity Dermatologist
Author, Seven Days to Sexy