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Do you want us to find the fountain of youth? Give us full stops, say scientists

WASHINGTON. Better alternative endpoints are needed to help patients benefit from anti-aging therapies, experts told a House committee on Thursday.

“It would be important to develop different metrics to measure success,” said Steve Horvath, PhD, principal investigator at Altos Labs, a San Francisco-based biotech company focused on cellular rejuvenation programming. “Imagine you have a drug that you give to a middle-aged person, a 40-year-old man, in the hope that it will prevent future illnesses, but then you have to follow that person for decades; it’s cost-prohibitive. move along [these medications]we need to find surrogate measures, in other words, biomarkers.”

Horvath spoke at a House Science, Space, and Technology Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. audience titled The Fountain of Youth? The search for therapies for aging.

“It would be great if a regulatory agency could take the initiative to put together a panel, look very carefully at the data, and develop surrogate endpoints that are reliable, which most scientists believe in,” Horvath said. “And these should be available to the biotech industry to unlock investment from private sources to fund these trials.”

These biomarkers “could be functional tests that [already] how fast you walk, how fast you get up and out of a chair,” said Laura Niedernhofer, MD, PhD, director of the Institute for the Biology of Aging and Metabolism at the University of Minnesota. “What is slow decay in your ability to go around the track? It should also incorporate molecular markers that are highly quantitative.”

He suggested that a good start would be “a conversation between regulators about what they need to prove safety and efficacy, and then scientists who can really figure out how to measure those [things].”

Witnesses speaking at the hearing emphasized that they were not trying to find therapies to greatly extend human life or help people live forever, but instead are researching therapies that allow people to spend most of their time living an active and healthy life. lives, until the end of life.

“Queen Elizabeth is a beautiful example” of someone who seemed healthy and active until a few days before her death at age 95, Niedernhofer said. “She had a very compressed period of morbidity.”

If scientists are successful, “it will take a longer period of time to age biologically; it may take 90 years to become [the biological equivalent of] 70 or 80 years to become 60, or something like that,” said Jay Olshansky, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago. “It’s not going to stop aging; It’s going to slow it down, and in the end that’s what we want: maintain youthful vigor for a longer period of time.”

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) reflected on the effect slowing aging could have on society. For example, “if, in fact, we are moving forward where people can live longer, healthier, more productive lives, then there are some things at the macroeconomic level that we need to prepare for, one of which is Social Security,” he said. he said.

Olshansky agreed that when these therapies come online, “they will actually successfully produce more healthy older people. There will be more people surviving into their 65s, 85s and 90s than at any other time in history.”

“There is no question that the Social Security Administration will have to deal with a larger population that gets benefits for a longer period of time,” Olshansky said. “However, if we are extending healthy living and people decide to work longer… Now you will have a justification for delaying the age of entitlement.”

What will these anti-aging therapies consist of and how much will they cost? “So right now we’re really focused on natural products, as well as repurposing existing drugs,” Niedernhofer said. “The main reason for this is that these are going to be quicker to test in a clinical setting, because then we can go straight into a phase II clinical trial and not have to start from scratch, where we’re just testing safety. So This speaks to the urgency that we recognize.”

For example, “we have been working with quercetin in advanced clinical trials,” he said. “It’s about $15 a dose and you need two doses every 2 weeks, so it’s pretty cheap.”

Niedernhofer lists several barriers that stand in the way of anti-aging research, also known as “geroscience,” including funding issues, a lack of medical scientists and infrastructure for geriatric clinical trials, and a lack of biomarkers that report how well you’re aging.

The federal government could help by providing funding, support for training and infrastructure, including the exchange of biological samples and data, and “also by facilitating the collection and dissemination of information among diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups,” he said. he said she.

  • Author['full_name']

    Joyce Frieden oversees MedPage Today’s Washington coverage, which includes stories on Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court, health care trade associations and federal agencies. She has 35 years of experience covering health policies. To follow


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