The next step is to try to find a better compound than fisetin, said Paul Robbins, co-director of iBAM. He and the other researchers are interested in studying fisetin and other senolytics to find the most potent compound or to even create a man-made product that performs better than natural ones.
One question they can now answer, however, is why haven’t they done this before? There were always key limitations when it came to figuring out how a drug will act on different tissues, different cells in an aging body. Researchers did not have a way to identify if a treatment was actually attacking the particular cells that are senescent, until now.
Under the guidance of Edgar Arriaga, a professor in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, the team used mass cytometry, or CyTOF, technology and applied it for the first time in aging research, which is unique to the University of Minnesota.
“We looked at the properties that changed when the cells were exposed to fisetin,” said Arriaga, “This technology allowed the researchers to determine which cells were being affected by the treatment.”
Arriaga added that it is rare for a university chemistry department to have mass cytometry technology as it is usually only found in cancer and immunology centers.
“We believe it is an advantage,” he said.
“In addition to showing that the drug works, this is the first demonstration that shows the effects of the drug on specific subsets of these damaged cells within a given tissue.” Robbins said.