In a publication in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, a subclass of anti-aging compounds, called geroneuroprotectors (GNPs), have been identified in research to hold a potential role in slowing the aging process in mice. Since aging is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD)—GNPs mays serve as a potential drug candidate.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that first deteriorates memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to perform simple tasks. Although losing memory is common as people grow old, it is not considered a normal part of aging.
Watch a video about how Alzheimer's changes the brain:
"The argument for geroprotectors is that if one can extend the lifespan of model organisms, such as mice, and translate this effect to humans, then you should be able to slow down the appearance of many diseases that are associated with aging, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer and overall frailty," states Dave Schubert, first author, Salk Institute professor and head of Salk's Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory.
In the study researchers first focused on two medicinal properties found in plants fisetin, derived from fruits and vegetables, and curcumin, from the curry spice turmeric. Researchers used these compounds, to synthesize three AD drug candidates based on their ability to protect neurons from age-related toxicities in the brain. The compounds that were then synthesized are CMS121, CAD31, and J147.
"Since we found that the natural products curcumin and fisetin are also GNPs and commercially available as supplements, they could provide some therapeutic benefits right now," says Maher.
The lab has successfully shown that these synthetic compounds were able to reduce the molecular markers of aging. The researchers were able to examine that the molecular pathways associated with the AD drug candidates are the same as well-studied synthetic compounds previously shown to extend the lifespan of many animals.
Researchers are hoping to get two GNPs, CMS121 and J147, into clinical trials once FDA has approved. The study is believed to validate the drug discovery model in the promotion of healthy aging
"If these drugs have benefits for other body systems, such as maintaining kidney function and overall muscle health, they could be used in additional ways to treat or prevent the diseases of aging," Schubert says.