Can Senolytics Improve Back Pain and Disc Health?

By /

Credit: Shutterstock

Can a drug cocktail help degenerated discs? The idea is that by using “senolytic” drugs, you can reduce the number of older and bad cells in a degenerated disc, and thus help the condition. Let’s review a recent animal study and also discuss why this data is being a bit overhyped at this point.

A New Headline

In the science news this week, this was one of the headlines:

“Drug cocktail reduces aging-associated disc degeneration”

To understand what happened in this new study, we need to explore senolytic drugs and the differences between rat discs and human discs.

Join us for a free Regenexx webinar.

What is a Senolytic Drug?

A senolytic drug (or supplement) is one that’s believed to reduce human aging (1). There are no FDA-approved drugs for this indication yet, so these are typically existing drugs and supplements that have been shown to do things like getting rid of aging cells faster, help aging cells perform better, or reduce age-related inflammation. Perhaps the most well studied of these to date is the type 2 diabetes drug called Metformin. There is now a long list of drugs and supplements that we suspect are senolytic (this is a very short list):

  • Fistein
  • Melatonin
  • Quercitin
  • Metformin
  • Resveratrol
  • Rapamycin
  • Curcumin

There are also a bunch of experimental drugs in this category that are tough to source. Also, some of these senolytic drugs like Dasatinib and Ruxolitinib are cancer chemotherapy drugs that have their own set of side effects.

The New Study Results

In this new study, scientists fed mice dasatinib and quercetin (2). They measured the age-related disc degeneration and the number of aged and less functional cells in their discs relative to a group that got a placebo. They did find less degenerative disc disease in the mice on the senolytic drugs and fewer senolytic cells in their discs when compared to a group fed a placebo.

Join us for a free Regenexx webinar.

Caution!

First, before you run out and ask your doctor for a dasatinib script, this is a medication that is only used as chemotherapy for certain types of blood cancers, so you won’t be able to access it. On the quercetin side, that’s a common supplement that’s readily available, so it’s easy to get. However, realize that mice discs bear little resemblance to human discs. Meaning that many a drug or injectable has shown success in regenerating mice, rat, or rabbit discs and then completely crashed and burned in human trials. Why? They’re quadrupeds, so they don’t load their discs in the same way that bipeds with opposable thumbs do.

The upshot? This is interesting research. Quercetin has few side effects, so you can certainly take some to see if helps your back pain. Other supplements above are also easy to get. Metformin is one that I take as do many other physicians (it never helped my back), for general health, but getting it if you don’t have blood sugar control problems might be difficult. However, please don’t try to buy chemotherapy drugs from Mexico! Taking them to help back pain is a BAD idea.

________________________________________________

(1) Zhu M, Meng P, Ling X, Zhou L. Advancements in therapeutic drugs targeting of senescence. Ther Adv Chronic Dis. 2020 Oct 13;11:2040622320964125. doi: 10.1177/2040622320964125. PMID: 33133476; PMCID: PMC7576933.

(2) Emanuel J. Novais, Victoria A. Tran, Shira N. Johnston, Kayla R. Darris, Alex J. Roupas, Garrett A. Sessions, Irving M. Shapiro, Brian O. Diekman, Makarand V. Risbud. Long-term treatment with senolytic drugs Dasatinib and Quercetin ameliorates age-dependent intervertebral disc degeneration in mice. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-25453-2

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

If you have questions or comments about this blog post, please email us at [email protected]

NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

Get Blog Updates by Email

By submitting the form, you are agreeing that you read and consent to our Privacy Policy. We may also contact you via email, phone, and other electronic means to communicate information about our products and services. We do not sell, or share your information to third party vendors.

Category: Uncategorized
Copyright © Regenexx 2021. All rights reserved.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Address

9035 Wadsworth Pkwy #1000
Westminster, CO 80021

Phone

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.

LinkedIn
Email
TO TOP