Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a powerful tool in the quest for immortality. In a groundbreaking study published in the journal Nature Aging, a team of scientists from Integrated Biosciences, Harvard University, and MIT have used AI to discover potential small-molecule senolytics – compounds that can slow down the aging process by targeting and eliminating senescent cells.
The researchers trained deep learning models with the results of a sample of small molecules for senolytic activity. By applying AI to the vast number of potential chemical compounds that have already been created or could be developed, the team was able to efficiently sift through this “haystack” and identify promising drug candidates.
The study’s lead author, Felix Wong, emphasized the difficulty of finding new drugs without the help of AI. He compared the search to finding a needle in a haystack, except that the haystack consists of all the potential chemical compounds. AI significantly speeds up the process by predicting which drug candidates are most likely to work.
The methodology used in this research has been lauded by experts in the field. Andrew Rutenberg, a biophysicist and professor at the University of Dalhousie, called it “impressive work” that uses deep machine learning techniques to explore diverse molecular structures for novel senolytics.
The experiment began with evaluating thousands of compounds in test tubes to determine their senolytic activity. The data collected from these experiments was then fed into the AI program, which used the information to identify the most promising drug candidates from over 800,000 options.
After narrowing down the selection to 216 compounds with high senolytic activity, the researchers conducted further laboratory experiments to identify the most effective drugs. One such drug was tested on an 80-year-old mouse, and the decline of aging biomarkers was observed in the mouse’s kidneys, indicating that the compound can reduce the aging of cells in living animals.
The three potential drugs identified in the study are currently undergoing testing and are known as BRD-K20733377, BRD-K56819078, and BRD-K44839765. While the names may seem complex, these compounds hold the promise of extending human lifespan and optimizing health.
The screening process conducted by AI primarily focused on evaluating the potential side effects of the drugs. This is an important factor to consider before moving forward with human trials. Aline Martins, a Brazilian biologist who works as a researcher at The Scripps Research Institute, highlights the significance of AI in conducting experiments on this scale. She explains that it would be nearly impossible to carry out these tests in humans or in the laboratory without the use of AI in a simulated environment.
Senescent cells, often referred to as “zombie cells,” play a significant role in the aging process and can contribute to various age-related diseases such as osteoarthritis, inflammation, and cancer. While stopping these cells from dividing can reduce the risk of cancer, it is crucial to find a balanced senolytic that can halt aging without causing harmful side effects.
The ultimate goal of the researchers is to test the identified compounds on humans in an effort to increase life expectancy by eliminating harmful subpopulations of aging cells. Wong believes that with the progress being made in the field of AI and senolytics, we may be edging closer to achieving this goal.
The study conducted by Integrated Biosciences, Harvard University, and MIT represents a significant milestone in the pursuit of immortality. With the help of AI, scientists are harnessing the power of technology to unlock the secrets of aging and potentially pave the way for longer, healthier lives. As research in this field continues to advance, it is not unlikely that we may one day see the development of effective anti-aging drugs that can revolutionize the way we age and live.