Middle-aged mice fed with antibiotic live longer

July 10th, 2009 - 6:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 10 (IANS) Middle-aged mice, fed with the anti-biotic rapamycin, lived between nine and 14 percent longer than other mice, according to a new study. The drug has the potential to become an anti-aging pill.
The drug, among other things, is currently used to suppress immune systems in transplant patients.

The finding was the result of a collaboration between the University of Texas (UT) Health Science Centre, University of Michigan Ann Arbor and Jackson Lab, Maine.

“Rapamycin” is named after Easter Island’s Polynesian name, Rapa Nui. The increased lifespan in the mice would be the equivalent increase in life expectancy that would result in humans if cancer and heart disease were cured and prevented,” said UT researchers in a press statement.

The mice were given the drug at the human equivalent of age 60.

The study is one of several in the National Institute on Aging (NIA) interventions testing program which is looking for compounds that might help to keep people active and free of disease for their whole lives.

Arlan G. Richardson, director of the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at UT, said: “I’ve been in aging research for 35 years and there have been many so-called ‘anti-aging’ interventions over those years that were never successful.”

“I never thought we would find an anti-aging pill for people in my lifetime; however, rapamycin shows a great deal of promise to do just that,” he added.

First discovered in the 1970s, rapamycin is an antifungal compound secreted by bacteria. It is used as an immuno-suppressant to stop donated organ rejection in transplant patients, particularly those receiving kidneys, said a UT release.

It is also used in stents that are implanted in patients who undergo angioplasty to prop open arteries. The compound is also undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of cancer.

These findings were published online this month in Nature.

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