There are a number of FDA-approved drugs that have shown efficacy in preclinical studies for addressing the aging processes. Drugs such as rapamycin, dasatinib, and quercetin among others have all showed promise in animal studies.
Non-profit Betterhumans, known for its educational and news-related work in the transhumanist community, has announced that it will be running a series of pilot studies on interventions against aging using FDA-approved drugs and therapies, and it intends to make all results publicly available in the interest of transparency.
Human trials with approved drugs that show potential for targeting an aging process
The organization plans to begin with a trial of dasatinib and quercetin, a combination that has enjoyed success in mice in a number of studies recently [1-2]. With these compounds already approved for human use, and the removal of senescent cells being the low-hanging fruit in aging research, it makes sense for Betterhumans to begin here.
The small-scale trials of senolytic therapies aim to remove toxic senescent cells from the body, as they have already proven to do so in mice in a bid to address age-related diseases. The removal of senescent cells has been a hot topic in the last year or so, with various groups entering human clinical trials.
However, the arrival of these new drugs could be some years away, as the clinical trial process is a long one; Betterhumans is looking for solutions people can use now while they wait for better things to arrive, so it is proposing to test drugs that are already approved.
We intend to pursue many small-scale human pilot studies to test the safety and efficacy of various FDA-approved drugs and therapies thought to have anti-aging effects. We will publish all results so that other researchers, physicians, and patients can have information which may aid their efforts.
One question they seek to answer in this Phase 0 pilot study is whether the senolytic compounds dasatinib and quercetin will significantly eliminate senescent cells contained in the muscle and fat tissue of elderly individuals who have metabolic syndrome and/or osteoarthritis, and the study will test if they will reduce levels of systemic inflammation and insulin resistance, improve the patients’ immunological responses, and reverse the progression of osteoarthritis.
There is already a wealth of animal data for senolytics, and groups like Betterhumans are keen to make use of existing drugs to potentially address aging processes. This lets people benefit from them in the immediate future while more refined therapies are developed.
We do, however, stress that such testing is not without risks and should only be conducted in the context of properly designed studies, such as those proposed here and by qualified professionals. In short, don’t try this at home, folks.
As its website states, Betterhumans is investigating a number of age-related diseases and the effect of these two compounds on them. In mouse studies, these compounds eliminated senescent cells, improved mouse health and, in some cases, even increased lifespan.
Will we see a translation of these positive results to humans? These pilot studies aim to find out, and we would like to see more properly organized, transparent studies being conducted. We will be doing an interview with James Clement from Betterhumans in the near future and learning more about this initiative, so stay tuned.
 Zhu, Y., Tchkonia, T., Pirtskhalava, T., Gower, A. C., Ding, H., Giorgadze, N., … & O’hara, S. P. (2015). The Achilles’ heel of senescent cells: from transcriptome to senolytic drugs. Aging cell, 14(4), 644-658.
 Roos, C. M., Zhang, B., Palmer, A. K., Ogrodnik, M. B., Pirtskhalava, T., Thalji, N. M., … & Zhu, Y. (2016). Chronic senolytic treatment alleviates established vasomotor dysfunction in aged or atherosclerotic mice. Aging Cell, 15(5), 973-977.