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Reason examines the failure of Unity Biotechnology's phase 2 senolytics trial


Key points from article :

Senolytics selectively destroy a sizable fraction of the senescent cells that accumulate in old tissues.

UNITY announced the failure of a phase II study of UBX0101, a p53/MDM2 interaction inhibitor, for knee osteoarthritis.

No statistically significant difference change from baseline in WOMAC-A (measurement of pain in OA).

Study adopted a single dose localized injection approach for their delivery of senolytics.

Much lower amounts of the drug can be used - desirable when the drug is a toxic chemotherapeutic compound.

But not clear that the harm done by senescent cells is local to a significant enough degree.

Possible reasons for failure:

- small molecule drug used may just not work reliably enough in humans in comparison to mice

- local administration may be a poor strategy if the goal is to reduce inflammatory burden

- targetted mechanism may not be as useful as hoped

Numerous other groups are working on the problem, and most have what look to be better approaches.

Disappointing first result - but lessons learnt and plenty of other strategies available

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CEO of Repair Technologies and founder of Fight Aging


Biotechnology company devoted to research of restoring human health