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  • Writer's pictureNatalia Mitin

Today is the day

I’m excited. Today, I’m ready to write publicly about our most recent work. In our ongoing longevity study, 22% of people decreased their cellular senescence using interventions available to all.


It’s tempting to write about this as a lightbulb moment, as writers often do to convey excitement about new discoveries. But in reality, science doesn’t work that way. I’ve been immersed in the field of cellular senescence for more than a decade. I got here via a circuitous route - trained as an engineer and chemist then pivoted to become a cancer researcher.  Cellular senescence is important in both oncology and aging, bridging my previous and current work. When I started in the field, we knew that cellular senescence increases with chronological age and that the rate of accumulation of senescent cells varies from person to person. From this, it was clear that measurements of cellular senescence, even as a snapshot, had something to tell us about a person’s health history, resilience, and aging trajectory.

 

We saw cellular senescence increase in people with conditions known to accelerate aging, like receiving treatments for cancer or being HIV+, but we didn’t see it come down. Then again, our focus wasn’t on slowing aging so much as trying to predict who was at risk and identify treatments that minimized age acceleration. That was our worldview.

 

We were busy. We had so much interest from clinical researchers who wanted us to measure cellular senescence in their samples. We participated in scores of pilot projects. Eventually, we started to notice something unexpected. A lightbulb moment? Maybe more like a head scratching moment. A few patients receiving cancer treatments had a decrease in cellular senescence. Then, another signal. In a dietary study, about a quarter of patients had a significant decrease in their cellular senescence.

 

As scientists with deep academic roots, our first thought wasn’t about reversing aging. At the time, those words evoked specious claims and hard sales tactics. Our focus was on traditional medicine and questions like, “Does cellular senescence predict adverse events when measured before cardiac surgery?”  Hint, the answer is yes. But yet, what about these people who seem to be decreasing their cellular senescence and improving their aging trajectory?

 

At the same time, the field of longevity medicine was making dramatic leaps forward. Specious claims replaced with leading voices balancing scientific rigor and transformative vision. A vision of aging differently, with many more years of high quality, productive, pleasurable time with our colleagues and family. We took a leap. Again, not a lightbulb moment. Rather, a moment where your gut tells you something is true, and you set the wheels in motion to find out. Not the stuff of movie plots, but for me, it’s the excitement of science.

 

We’ve always been focused on what happens in real people, in real lives. And in real life, people who engage with proactive medicine physicians are ready to act! Sleep, nutrition, exercise, supplements – bring it on. We decided the best way to deal with this complexity was to not deal with this complexity. We partnered with a few of the leading voices in the longevity community to start a clinical registry that takes all-comers. Participation does not depend on meeting certain disease or health criteria. And all interventions are acceptable. People discover their cellular senescence results, and they make choices from there. Real life.

 

We’ve been measuring senescence and discussing individual cases with our clinical partners for more than a year now. There were many flickers of light. I could spend days recounting anecdotes.  But the real lightbulb moment is now. The point at which I’m willing to publicly say, ‘Look at this.’ 

 

We now have 77 people with longitudinal measurements (2-6 measures) in our registry. Twenty two percentof participants significantly decreased their cellular senescence and improved their aging trajectory.  Let me be clear - cellular senescence is hard to move. It doesn’t bounce around with everyday living, and it takes at least a few months to see a change. But our longevity medicine partners are improving it.  And they’re also using our measures to help clients whose circumstances or aging interventions might be causing harm. Because yes, we also see significant increases in cellular senescence in some people.

 

The next obvious question you may have, ‘How? What were the interventions that helped?’ No drumrolls – we are not there yet.  While our registry provides a real-life view of what can be done, the obvious number of potential interventions and their combinations means we need more data. The analysis might look like the combinatorial approach Aubrey de Grey uses in his mouse rejuvenation study. Like any good blog post, we’ll end with a cliffhanger and promise more.

 

I love being a part of the longevity community where we learn from each other as we move towards the goal of improving healthspan and lifespan. And so, we share the earliest results from the first ever human clinical study showing that cellular senescence can be decreased in “healthy” people using real-world interventions available today.

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