The aging process remains one of the biggest challenges in the biological sciences. Since the advent of recorded human history, we know that countless generations have sought to develop medicines to control it’s outcome. The complexity of biology is more enveloped in this enigma then any disease process that biotech and pharmaceutical company’s labor to develop medicines, because all human beings age - whereas not everyone contract’s a disease.
The drugging-a-disease-mechanism paradigm is a pillar for the drug discovery industry. This is because disease mechanisms are better understood, easier to separate and identify from healthy (normal) biology, and if druggable, can regulate the process to control the disease. The current pharmaceutical drug discovery process is aligned with the often difficult to navigate healthcare industry, involving many stakeholders and contending parties - before the medicine gets to the patient (even though it is often stated that the “patient is first”).
Elucidating drugs for aging puts an enormous conundrum before the industry. Is aging a disease or life-style choice? Can we differentiate aging from healthy and normal biology to identify druggable targets? The attention that Big Pharma has now turned to start contemplating medicines for aging, may be a harbinger that some aging symptoms may be possible to medicate for. For example, Novartis released BYM338 PhaseII results, a drug with FDA-fast track status for Inclusion-body-Myositis (IBM). IBM patients suffer from muscle wasting condition, which could be life threatening. (see http://www.novartis.com/newsroom/media-releases/en/2013/1723765.shtml). IBM patients on treatment experienced significant improvement in physical strength compared to placebo. Weakening of muscles is also experienced during the aging process, which limits the quality of life for advanced seniors. Could drugs, like BYM338, be made to target normal muscle weakening as people age?
One of the purposes of this blog is to spotlight “the science of drug discovery” as it applies to longevity, life-span expansion, and in general the hallmarks of the aging process. Through this portal, we hope to illustrate the issues of drug discovery side of longevity, and invite you, dear reader, to explore and expound these topics with us.
First and foremost, we apologize at the get-go for any errors or omissions (and this includes grammatical and spelling mistakes), because our entrepreneurial enthusiasm to explore, might leave us a bit blind-sided. “Shoot swiftly, apologize later”