An arthritis drug could hold the key to reversing aging, researchers say.
Scientists know it’s possible to rejuvenate old blood in patients by infusing them with the blood of younger and healthier people, but studies are still in their early stages.
However, researchers at Columbia University in New York may have found a way to refresh old blood without taking it away from other people.
Anakinra, sold under the brand name Kineret and used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, may have the power to reverse some parts of the aging process of the hematopoietic system that produces our blood.
Stem cells, which live in the bone marrow, are responsible for blood formation in our body.
As a person ages, hematopoietic stem cells make fewer red blood and immune cells, weakening the immune system, which can lead to conditions like anemia and even cancer.
The Columbia University study, published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, found that as mice age, the hematopoietic system becomes inflamed to the point of deterioration, causing blood stem cells to stop functioning properly.
Deteriorating bone marrow is a major cause of aging, but anakinra is able to block this by preventing the inflammation from occurring in the first place.
The research team is investigating whether this could also apply to humans and hopes to be able to initiate clinical trials.
Emmanuelle Passegué, director of the Columbia Stem Cell Initiative and lead author of the study, said, “Treating older patients with anti-inflammatory drugs that block IL-1B function should help maintain healthier blood production.”
Anakinra is given to patients with moderate to severe arthritis who have not improved after using other treatments.
For arthritis, it is given as a daily injection. Rheumatoid arthritis, the most common form of arthritis, affects approximately 1.3 million people in the United States.
Anti-aging biotechnology has become a popular investment opportunity for billionaires in recent years, and some believe people could hope to live as long as 150.
Medical advances over the last century have already resulted in people in affluent nations living into their 80s, nearly double the average life expectancy at the turn of the 20th century.
Tech tycoon Bryan Johnson, 45, spends $2 million annually on a team of more than 30 doctors and medical experts to monitor and test nearly every organ in his body. His goal is to transform his body into that of an 18-year-old.
And the founder and billionaire behind Coinbase, an American cryptocurrency company, is trying to cure aging and using machine learning to find it.
Billionaires Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner are also funding a “rejuvenation” biotechnology startup with the goal of finding a way to reverse aging.