Many diseases are heterogeneous by nature. When designing a drug target, it is extremely difficult to treat a big population with a single targeted drug or even a combination of drugs. The most recent data shows that the aging population (≥50 years old) is accountable for 77% of deaths globally. The major cause of death was related to age-associated diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and other neurodegenerative disorders. This suggests that aging plays an important role in different diseases.
A substantial percentage of the human clinical trials, including those evaluating investigational anti-aging drugs, fail in Phase II where the efficacy of the drug is tested. This poor rate of success is in part due to inadequate target choice and the inability to identify a group of patients who will most likely respond to specific agents. This challenge is further complicated by the differences in the biological age of the patients, as the importance of therapeutic targets varies between age groups. Unfortunately, most targets are discovered without considering patients' age and are tested in a relatively younger population (average age in phase I is 24 years). Hence, identifying potential targets that are implicated in multiple age-associated diseases which also play a role in the basic biology of aging, may have substantial benefits.
The ultimate goal of geroscience is the extension of lifespan by extending healthspan, the period of lifetime free from diseases and disabilities caused by aging. As a result, it is important to look for dual-purpose targets that are implicated in aging and disease at the same time to extend healthspan and delay age-related health issues, a philosophy envisioned by the CEO of Insilico Medicine. Even if the target is not the most important for a specific patient, the drug would still benefit that patient.