For whom are anti-aging drugs useful?

Aging, as a physiological process mediated by numerous regulatory pathways and transcription factors, is manifested by continuous progressive functional decline and increasing risk of chronic diseases. There is an increasing interest to identify pharmacological agents for treatment and prevention of age-related disease in humans. Animal models play an important role in identification and testing of anti-aging compounds; this step is crucial before the drug will enter human clinical trial or will be introduced to human medicine. One of the main goals of animal studies is better understanding of mechanistic targets, therapeutic implications and side-effects of the drug, which may be later translated into humans. In this chapter, we summarized the effects of different anti-aging  drugs reported to extend the lifespan in model organisms from round worms to rodents. Resveratrol, rapamycin, metformin and aspirin, showing effectiveness in model organism life- and healthspan extension mainly target the master regulators of aging such as mTOR, FOXO and PGC1α, affecting autophagy, inflammation and oxidative stress. In humans, these drugs were demonstrated to reduce inflammation, prevent CVD, and slow down the functional decline in certain organs. Additionally, potential anti-aging pharmacologic agents inhibit cancerogenesis, interfering with certain aspects of cell metabolism, proliferation, angioneogenesis and apoptosis.

Some products are marketed with claims that they will make people look younger. But are these products cosmetics? It depends.

Products intended to make people more attractive are generally cosmetics. For example, moisturizing is a cosmetic claim. So, if a product is intended to make lines and wrinkles less noticeable, simply by moisturizing the skin, it’s a cosmetic. Similarly, makeup or “primers” intended to make the signs of aging less noticeable just by hiding them are also cosmetics.

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But, products intended to affect the structure or function of the body, such as the skin, are drugs, or sometimes medical devices, even if they affect the appearance. So, if a product is intended, for example, to remove wrinkles or increase the skin’s production of collagen, it’s a drug or a medical device.

Under the law, cosmetics must be safe when consumers use them according to product labeling, or the way in which the products are customarily used. But the law does not require cosmetics to be approved by FDA before they go on the market. Drugs, however, must have FDA approval for both safety and effectiveness before they go on the market. Similarly, medical devices must go through FDA’s clearance process.

FDA is concerned about drug claims made for products marketed as cosmetics, such as skin care products with anti-wrinkle or anti-aging claims that involve supposed effects on the structure or function of the skin.

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