What are Senolytics?

Senescent – The loss of a cell’s ability to divide and grow.
Lytic – To destroy.

Senolytics is a broad term used to describe small molecules that act to initiate death of cells that are no longer dividing. These bioactive compounds are growing in popularity among the anti-aging community as more research continues to investigate the way in which senolytics delay, prevent, reverse, or reduce age-related diseases.

Senolytics were originally thought to be a potential treatment for cancer as a way to destroy tumor cells which had become ‘immortal’. Scientists discovered senescent cells could also be targeted, which could aid in reducing other age-related diseases.

Victor Björk, a student of Molecular Biology at Uppsala University and administrative assistant for the Gerontology Research Group (GRG), explains senescent cells and aging.

Senescent Cells and Aging

When cells do not enter apoptosis, the body’s natural programmed death of cells, they become senescent. The accumulation of these types of cells can emit potentially harmful chemical signals to nearby cells that encourage the same senescent state.

Senescent cells can cause the degradation of tissue function and can increase levels of chronic inflammation, a common factor in age-related diseases. Senescent cells increase inflammation by secreting pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and extracellular matrix proteases. This process is known as the Senescence Associated Secretory Phenotype (SASP), or a set of physical characteristics that contribute to aging and cancer.