Age-related frailty, directly speaking, is how we physically start to decline as we get older. We become weaker, more susceptible to physical injury and disease, and more prone to stress brought on by environmental factors such as extreme heat and extreme cold. Eventually, time catches up with us, and we die.

Scientists have been looking for a modern “fountain of youth” that can delay or even reverse age-related frailty for quite some time. A group of researchers thinks they have found it in the form of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).

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Human trials at the University of Miami Miller School Of Medicine have had some promising results/

What are mesenchymal stem cells?

Mesenchymal Stem Cells are derived from bone marrow.

MSCs can create several types of cells that make up skeletal tissue, including bone, cartilage, and fat. Previous research has explored the use of MSCs in the treatment of diseased of those tissues. The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine study involved the extraction of mesenchymal stem cells from younger donors and their injection into groups of test subjects with an average age of 76.

What were the results of the first human trials?

In the Phase 1 trial, 15 frail patients were infused with a single dose of MSCs. Six months later the subjects not only demonstrated no ill effects but also a marked improvement in their quality of life, physical fitness, and tumor necrosis factors in which the body naturally destroys tumors. The Phase 2 trial was a double blind test with a placebo group and showed similar effects for the patients who received the MSC treatments.

What happens next?

The researchers now plan to proceed with the Phase 2B trial that will involve 120 patients at 10 locations. The Phase 3 trial will be the more extensive, finalized test that has to take place before final FDA approval and the introduction of the treatment into a clinical setting.

The introduction of a treatment that reverses age-related frailty will have effects that cannot be overestimated. Particularly in the developed world, the prospect of an aging population that will need care has been a daunting one. More people will need to be moved to assisted living facilities and will have to undergo treatments as diseases associated with age begin to strike. If an infusion of MSCs can stave off physical decline as lifespans continue to expand, the savings in health care costs not to mention the increase of what many called “healthspan” will be of enormous benefit. The plea, as someone once said, can be expressed as, “Faster, please.”