London: A drug currently used to treat patients with osteoporosis can protect stem cells from ageing, a breakthrough study has found.
Scientists from the University of Sheffield discovered the drug zoledronate is able to extend the lifespan of mesenchymal stem cells by reducing DNA damage.
DNA damage is one of the most important mechanisms of ageing where stem cells lose their ability to maintain and repair the tissues in which they live and keep it working correctly.
The pioneering research shows the drug protects the stem cells from DNA damage enhancing their survival and maintaining their function.
“The drug enhances the repair of the damage in DNA occurring with age in stem cells in the bone. It is also likely to work in other stem cells too,” said professor Ilaria Bellantuono from the University's department of metabolism.
“This drug has been shown to delay mortality in patients affected by osteoporosis but until now we didn't know why. These findings provide an explanation as to why it may help people to live longer,” he added.
Approximately 50 percent of over 75 year-olds globally have three or more diseases at the same time such as cardiovascular disease, infections, muscle weakness and osteoporosis.
It is hoped this drug could be used to treat, prevent or delay the onset of such diseases rather than using a mixture of drugs.
“We are hopeful that this research will pave the way for a better cure for cancer patients and keeping older people healthier for longer by reducing the risk of developing multiple age-related diseases,” the authors noted in a paper in the journal Stem Cells.