Rapamycin extended the expected lifespan of middle-aged mice by 28 percent to 38 percent, revealed by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
In human terms, this would be greater than the predicted increase in extra years of life if cancer and heart disease were both cured and prevented.
Rapamycin, a compound first discovered in soil of Easter Island, after the island’s Polynesian name, Rapa Nui ? extended the expected lifespan of middle-aged mice by 28 percent to 38 percent.
The rapamycin was given to the mice at an age equivalent to 60 years old in humans.
The studies are part of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Interventions Testing Program, which seeks compounds that might help people remain active and disease-free throughout their lives. The other two centers involved are the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine.
The Texas study was led by scientists at two institutes at the UT Health Science Center: the Institute of Biotechnology (IBT) and the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies.
“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,” said Arlan G. Richardson, Ph.D., director of the Barshop Institute. “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.”
The new aging experiments found that adding rapamycin to the diet of older mice increased their lifespan. The results were the same in Texas, Michigan and Maine.
“We believe this is the first convincing evidence that the aging process can be slowed and lifespan can be extended by a drug therapy starting at an advanced age,” said Randy Strong, Ph.D., who directs the NIA-funded Aging Interventions Testing Center in San Antonio. He is a professor of pharmacology at the UT Health Science Center and a senior research career scientist with the South Texas Veterans Health Care System.
Aging researchers currently acknowledge only two life-extending interventions in mammals: calorie restriction and genetic manipulation. Rapamycin appears to partially shut down the same molecular pathway as restricting food intake or reducing growth factors.