June 30, 2011

New Drug Reverses Affects Of Premature Aging

Scientists have discovered a drug they believe can reverse the effects of premature aging and could extend human life by over a decade.

Rapamycin was created from a chemical found in the soil on Easter Island, which is one of the most remote places on Earth and 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile.

The drug, which has been nicknamed the "forever young" drug, was used in experiments on children suffering from Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS).  HGPS is a rare condition in which aging is hyper-accelerate and sufferers die of "old age" at around 12 years.

HGPS causes a protein called progerin to build up in every cell of the body, causing them to age prematurely.

Rapamycin cleaned the cells of progerin, which swept away the defects and left healthy cells.

Researchers are expected to start looking at whether the drug could be used more widely, after similarities between HGPS and the normal aging process were uncovered.

The drug is already used to suppress the immune system in organ transplants.

Dimitri Krainc, one of the study's co-authors, said in a statement: "Even a small activation of this 'debris removal' system would extend the health and life-span of our cells and organs."

He added: "It should be emphasized that we are not recommending rapamycin as an anti-aging medicine at this point.  Safer versions of rapamycin would have to be developed for such purpose."

The researchers reported their findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine.


On the Net: