mouse silhouette textA few days back we had reported about a new anti-aging pill that seemed to prolong the life-span of mice. Longevity researchers from University of Washington (UW) now advise healthy people to refrain from taking the Easter Island compound in the anticipation of extending their days of living.

As part of a commentary write-up for the journal Nature, UW scientists were required to analyze the study that stated that dietary supplementation with rapamycin increased the life span of mice. They observed that in recent times, compounds which increase the life span and which were until now believed to be science fiction could be closer to reality thanks to these new findings.

They noted that experts associated with the study used a specially prepared, time-release rapamycin supplement inside their lab mouse chow. The mice were interestingly not exposed to rapamycin until they were middle-aged which the experts termed to ‘roughly the equivalent of a 60-year-old person.’ Even so, the drug seemed to have an intense effect on lifespan.

The UW scientists who wrote a commentary on this study were Dr. Matt Kaeberlein, assistant professor of pathology, and Dr. Brian Kennedy, associate professor of biochemistry and Dr. Stanley Fields, professor of genome sciences who study factors that control aging.

“The possibility that such compounds might exist, and might perhaps even be within reach, has gained scientific credibility,” they noted in the journal, Nature.

Their News & Views editorial, ‘Ageing: A Mid-Life Longevity Drug?’ examined the study co-led by Dr. David Harrison at the Jackson Laboratories in Maine, Dr. Richard Miller at the University of Michigan, and Dr. Randy Strong at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio.

Rapamycin from earlier times is believed to play a significant role in medical care. For example, it seems to function well in reducing the rejection of transplanted organs, treating advanced kidney cancer and also in avoiding the narrowing of the heart’s arteries after surgery.

Rapamycin was earlier also believed to increase the lifespan in yeast. Kaeberlein, Kennedy and Dr. Stanley Fields, professor of genome sciences showed that it inhibited an enzyme called TOR thereby increasing the life span in yeast. Apparently, TOR activity is regulated by the availability of nutrients. Earlier analysis signified that reducing TOR activity was vital to know how dietary control slows aging in yeast. Allegedly, dietary control was long known to slow aging in mice and protect animals against age-related disorders like obesity, cancer and heart disease. Researchers were of the opinion that the chances that rapamycin seems to imitate the effects of dietary restriction in mice merits further study.

The authors concluded that, “Although extending human lifespan with a pill remains the purview of science fiction for now, the results of the study by Harrison and his colleagues provide reason for optimism that, even during middle age, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

The commentators are of the opinion that rapamycin could suppress the immune system. They hence advise healthy people that presently they should not take rapamycin in order to slow aging. However in due course, there appears to be a possibility that rapamycin or more sophisticated interventions may decrease TOR activity which might soon prove useful against age-related diseases. They also claimed that a drug policy might be revealed in the future to provide similar disease-fighting and longevity benefits devoid of unwanted side-effects.

The study of rapamycin’s longevity effects was noted to be a part of the National Institute on Aging Interventions Testing Program.