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Old 07-09-2009, 09:25 PM   #1
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Drug that can extend life by a decade

'Fountain of youth' drug can extend life by a decade | Mail Online

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A miraculous 'elixir of youth' which could extend the human life span by more than a decade is being developed by scientists. The anti-ageing pill was created from a chemical found in the soil of Easter Island - one of the most remote and mysterious places on the planet. In tests on animals, the chemical increased life expectancy by a staggering 38 per cent.

While the breakthrough sounds like something out of science fiction, scientists say the discovery is a major leap towards longer lives for everyone. The drug, rapamycin, is already used to suppress the immune systems of organ transplant patients.

It is also employed in heart operations and is being tested for its anti-cancer properties. The scientists believe that the drug could be developed within a decade.

Dr Arlan Richardson, who led the research at the University of Texas, said: 'I never thought we would find an anti-ageing pill for people in my lifetime. However, rapamycin shows a great deal of promise to do just that.' An anti-ageing pill is a Holy Grail for medical research and its development would have major repercussions for society.

In a world where people routinely live to 90 and 100, retirement ages would need to creep forward into the 70s while extended life spans would put enormous pressures on healthcare, housing and social services - as well as marriages. The implications of a such a pill also depends on the quality of those extra years. If an ageing drug delays every aspect of getting old, then users could enjoy 100 years of good health.

But if it simply postpones death, they could find their last few decades blighted by failing eyesight, hearing loss, frailty and dementia. Rapamycin was discovered in the 1970s during a worldwide search for new antibiotics.
The chemical is produced by a microbe that lives in the Easter Island soil. In its current form, the drug is too dangerous to hand out as an anti-ageing pill.

The compound suppresses the immune system and makes patients vulnerable to any viruses and bacteria. The existing version of the drug also increases the risk of cancer and would need to be modified before using in human trials.

However, researchers believe the new discovery will lead them to similar - but less harmful - anti-therapies. In the study, reported today in the journal Nature, scientists tested rapamycin on nearly 2,000 laboratory mice aged around 600 days - roughly the equivalent to a 60-year-old person.

Around a quarter of the mice were given a normal diet, the others the Easter Island chemical. The drug increased the maximum life span of the mice from 1,094 days to 1,245 days for females, and from 1,078 to 1,179 days for males. From the point the mice began the treatment, the drug extended the females' life expectancy by 38 per cent, and males by 28 per cent. Overall it expanded their life span by 9 to 14 per cent.

What amazed the scientists is that the drug worked even though the mice started to be given it only in middle and old age. Until now, scientists have developed just two ways of extending the life span of mammals. One is to tinker with their genes, the other to restrict their diet.

Repeated studies have shown that cutting calories can make animals and people live longer. Experts believe that rapamycin - which acts on a protein in cells called TOR - might fool the body into thinking that calories are being restricted. British scientists described the findings as exciting - but stressed that rapamycin weakens the immune system, exposing patients to potentially dangerous diseases.

In its current form, an extended life span would come at the cost of having to live in a germ-free tent. Researchers want to find another more subtle drug target that extends life, but which does not damage the immune system.

Dr Lynne Cox, researcher in ageing at Oxford University, said: 'In no way should anyone consider using this particular drug to try to extend their own life span as rapamycin suppresses immunity. While the lab mice were protected from infection, that's simply impossible in the human population.

'What the study does is to highlight an important molecular pathway that new, more specific drugs might be designed to work on. 'Whether it's a sensible thing to try to increase life span this way is another matter: Perhaps increasing health span rather than overall life span might be a better goal.'
Another 10 years with health, yes. 10 years of agony, no.
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Old 07-09-2009, 10:03 PM   #2
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Research on mice on how to heal bones, cure certain ailments, etc I understand, but to equate lifespans is somewhat of a leap for me. I'm not sure if it's the author of the article that's reporting it in such a manner or if this is how the scientific papers are being worded(I doubt this) but I think to make such a leap to say it can add 10 years to your life I find troubling.

Other than that it does sound like it's a great find and will be able to help some people.
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Old 07-09-2009, 11:04 PM   #3
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Well you know how it is. It currently kills a person's immune system so they have to devise a way to get the benefits without the immune system destruction since without an immune system you would most surely die sooner. Though I wonder if it could help people who have overactive immune systems. To me only if the lifespan is healthier would it be worth it. The only known healthy way to extend your life I know of is to consume less calories.
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Old 07-09-2009, 11:23 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by purpleoscar View Post
The only known healthy way to extend your life I know of is to consume less calories.
No. It's to be active and consume the right types of nutrients for your lifestyle.

And enjoy life!
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Old 07-09-2009, 11:35 PM   #5
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i will never understand why some seem to be so obsessed with prolonging their life as much as possible. it's not that i want to be dead by forty or anything, but i don't want to have to pump my body full of drugs just so i can live to be 100.
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Old 07-09-2009, 11:41 PM   #6
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what's weird is that the older i get -- and i'm pretty young, 31 -- the more i can see into the future, and it's not so much that i want to live to be 100, it's that i want to sustain a high quality of life for as long as is possible. if i could be 90 years old and still have good critical faculties and be able to walk for miles, and if there were a drug that could help me, then i'd absolutely take it.

if i could live to be 200 years old, and still maintain a quality of life, i'd do it. it's not about being young or looking good or whatever. it's about extending a life that is meeting a certain base criteria of quality.
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Old 07-10-2009, 12:20 AM   #7
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you don't get these 10 years when you're 30 and loving life, you get them at 90 when you want to die.
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Old 07-10-2009, 12:59 AM   #8
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No. It's to be active and consume the right types of nutrients for your lifestyle.

And enjoy life!
Read up on the Okinawa diet. You should consume adequate nutrients and be active but people often do the buffet all you can eat to the grave. The Japanese (older generation) use the 80% full method because they know (and doctors know) that when you eat about 80% full and stop it takes 20 min for the chemicals in your stomach to send a signal to your brain that you're done. The mitochondria release free radicals and the more calories you consume the more free radicals you release in your body. Unfortunately people eat out of boredom so they often consume WAY more than they need to and obescity climbs.

Also some method of stress reduction adds to long life. People who pray or meditate on a regular basis live longer. Too much stress creates cortizol in your body aging you even faster. When I got laser eye surgery they made it known that I should increase my intake of colourful fruits and vegetables to heal my corneas faster.
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Old 07-10-2009, 02:01 AM   #9
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The only known healthy way to extend your life I know of is to consume less calories.
I have seen a few shows on Discover Channel about that, but look what just happens to be the second story at cnn.com

Fewer calories equals a longer life -- At least in monkeys - CNN.com

spooooooky
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:45 AM   #10
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You should consume adequate nutrients and be active but people often do the buffet all you can eat to the grave.
I understand this. My whole point was that it's short sided to say "the only known healthy way to extend your life I know of is to consume less calories" because an athlete will require more calories than a non-athlete and I'm pretty sure you aren't trying to encourage people not to be athletic. By your logic anorexics live longer. That's why I said it's all about the right type of nutrients for your lifestyle.
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Old 07-10-2009, 11:33 AM   #11
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I understand this.
Good.
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Old 07-10-2009, 11:42 AM   #12
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I have seen a few shows on Discover Channel about that, but look what just happens to be the second story at cnn.com

Fewer calories equals a longer life -- At least in monkeys - CNN.com

spooooooky
I think for many overweight Americans it would be a good habit to start because it takes me 30 - 40 min of running to get 300 - 500 calories burned and a slice of pie to get it back. Most people could easily reduce calories without going anywhere near anorexia. This is what Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers are all about: portion control. Psychologically a lot of people also overeat because of boredom so doctors often try and get patients to find other things to do with their time so they aren't just in the habit of eating lots. This way they can keep it off without rebounding into old habits. Though it's a lot cheaper if people can do this for themselves. I heard Jenny Craig food is expensive.
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