Age is the primary risk factor for many common illnesses, including cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease, and diabetes. At the cellular level, one manifestation of senescence is characterized by repeated cellular injury, followed by loss of the normal ability to divide and replicate. This phenomenon may protect tissues against propagation of damaged cells, yet leaves tissues populated by zombie-like cells that no longer contribute to vital functions. Accumulation of senescent cells within tissues correlates with functional deterioration of tissues and organs, and is linked to the development of a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP).
Until recently, searching for the means to limit biological aging processes has formed the core of many anti-aging investigations. However, research in the last decade strongly suggests that direct elimination of aged and dysfunctional cells may be equally as crucial as attempting to prevent aging and cumulative cellular damage. Senolytics are substances that help complete the disrupted life-and-death cycle in retained senescent cells: they allow cells to die as they would under more ideal circumstances. By reducing senescent cell burden, senolytics encourage healthier surviving cells to divide in order to aid tissue repair, rejuvenation, and remodeling.