Scientists find new way to treat lung disease in smokers

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In a landmark study that could change how we approach lung health, particularly for smokers, a team of researchers has made a significant discovery.

The study, titled “Benidipine calcium channel blocker promotes the death of cigarette smoke-induced senescent cells and improves lung emphysema,” was recently published in the journal Aging.

Smoking, as we know, is a primary risk factor for numerous lung diseases, including the debilitating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cigarette smoke (CS) is particularly harmful, containing substances that can cause DNA mutations and disrupt cell balance and environment.

One of the effects of CS is the induction of senescence in lung cells. Senescent cells are essentially cells that have stopped dividing but do not die, and they have been increasingly linked to various lung diseases.

Recognizing the need to tackle this issue, researchers Alberta Palazzo and others embarked on a quest to find a solution.

They conducted a chemical screen using an FDA-approved drug library to hunt for compounds that could selectively target and eliminate these senescent lung cells induced by cigarette smoke.

The goal of their study was to identify compounds, known as senolytics, that could not only kill these harmful cells but also potentially reverse lung damage, such as emphysema, caused by smoking. Emphysema is a condition where the air sacs in the lungs become damaged, leading to breathing difficulties.

Among their findings, they discovered a new class of promising compounds: the dihydropyridine family of calcium voltage-gated channel (CaV) blockers. Specifically, Benidipine, a member of this family, showed remarkable results.

In a mouse model, Benidipine was able to reduce the number of senescent lung cells and improve the condition of lung emphysema.

This discovery is significant for several reasons. First, it adds a new class of molecules to the list of potential senolytics.

Second, it opens up new avenues for treating lung diseases caused by smoking, especially emphysema, which has been a challenging condition to manage effectively.

The researchers are optimistic about their findings and believe this is just the beginning. They see the potential for these CaV blockers, like Benidipine, to be studied further in various contexts of senescence and in other age-related diseases.

Their work is a crucial step towards developing more effective treatments for lung diseases, particularly those exacerbated by smoking.

It brings hope to millions of people suffering from conditions like COPD and emphysema and highlights the potential of repurposing existing drugs to tackle new health challenges.

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The research findings can be found in Aging.

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