A drug to help stop wrinkles and aging? UBC scientists raising hopes

WATCH: Have UBC researchers come across the Holy Grail of anti-aging? Ted Chernecki explains why scientists are much more excited about the medical potential. 

VANCOUVER – A team of scientists at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Providence Health Care is raising hopes for a drug that will prevent aging and  wrinkles.

They have genetically engineered mice with less wrinkled skin despite repeated exposure to wrinkle-inducing UV light. This discovery occurred when UBC professor David Granville was investigating the role of Granzyme B in atherosclerosis and heart attacks. He and his team found that the mice being given this drug retained youthful-looking skin compared to normal aged skin.

They published the findings last week in Aging Cell, stating the drug would block the activity of Granzyme B in certain places, and therefore prevent the aging and deterioration of tissues that depend on collagen, including skin blood vessels and lung passages.

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A company named viDA Therapeutics is currently developing a Granzyme-B inhibitor based on this technology and they plan to test a topically applied drug within two years on people with discoid lupus erythematosus. This is an autoimmune disease and when the skin is exposed to sunlight, it can lead to facial scarring. The musician Seal suffers from the condition.

If the drug proves effective, there is then the potential for a cosmetic product and something that could be used for life-threatening conditions, such as aneurysms and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Those are caused by the breakdown of collagen and other proteins that provide structure to blood vessels and lung passages.