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Anti-aging drug: Live longer thanks to rapamycin

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Anti-aging drug: Live longer thanks to rapamycin

Anti-Aging Drug: Nine Years More! Live longer thanks to rapamycin

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It is mankind’s dream: to live long and age healthily. In addition to a healthy lifestyle, the drug rapamycin could also be helpful. Research on animals is already in full swing. In the video, book author and journalist Nina Ruge explains how anti-aging can work in your cells.

Scientists are currently searching for ways and substances to prevent age-related decline and combat the negative effects of aging. Loud Max-Planck-Gesellschaft the drug rapamycin is currently the most promising anti-aging agent.

Antiaging Drug: What is Rapamycin?

Rapamycin comes from Easter Island (Polynesian: Rapa Nui). There, researchers discovered a new bacterium in the soil in the 1960s: Streptomyces hygroscopicus. Rapamycin is produced as a metabolic product.

The “career” of the substance is already diverse: initially it was supposed to be used as an antibiotic against fungal infections; For several years now, research has been carried out into the extent to which the substance could also be suitable as a life-prolonging elixir. In Germany, rapamycin (also called sirolimus) is currently approved as a drug under the trade name Rapamune – but only in combination with other immune-suppressing drugs.

How does rapamycin work?

Rapamycin is currently used primarily in transplants to prevent the rejection of foreign organs. Namely, rapamycin inhibits the enzyme mTOR, which affects the immune response and is involved in cell division. The inhibition of immune reactions is a desired effect in transplantation, as otherwise new organs that are still “foreign bodies” would be rejected.

However, what is helpful in operations is completely useless in everyday life: a reduction in immune function. Infections are therefore a known side effect of rapamycin administration. But also disturbances in fat metabolism and tumor formation.

It also seems that the administration of rapamycin has a similar effect on the body as a reduced food intake. This is also associated with a longer service life. This effect has already been demonstrated for mice. The underlying mechanism is explained as follows: The regulation of food intake is also closely linked to the protein mTOR. Since rapamycin has an inhibitory effect on this, it may reduce food intake.

rejuvenating effect? Current study results on rapamycin

From fruit flies to mice and dogs, there have been various studies with different focuses on the rejuvenating effect of rapamycin in recent years.

So far, the results can only be used to speculate as to whether and how rapamycin could work as an anti-aging agent for humans.

  • In fact, what has already been found is that rapamycin affects the life of laboratory mice extended by up to 25 percent. If the success in mice could be transferred to humans, rapamycin would give us six to nine years of life.
  • The study design is now to be transferred to large dogs, whose aging process is similar to that of humans. The research group was able to preliminary study already eliminate the immune-weakening effect of rapamycin and make it well tolerated by the dogs. Exciting: A high dosage is necessary for the life-prolonging effect. However, it is known that this would be harmful to humans. So could a high dose in short term be the solution?
  • The Max-Planck-Institut was able to find in young adult fruit flies that a three-month and a two-week dose of rapamycin had similar positive results: prolonged life and protection of the gut from age-related changes. For people, this could mean that short-term medication might be enough to get the desired effects. It was hoped that the side effects would then be avoided.

Rapamycin only useful for females and young people?

On closer inspection, the research results appear in a more pessimistic light. Because the positive effects on the fruit fly were evident only for female animals . And even with old fruit flies, there were no longer any effects. Applied to humans, it could be speculated that only one early intake of rapamycin has positive effects on the aging process.

Another important function of rapamycin is that „Recycling“ (autophagy) of old intestinal cells. A sex difference in the effect of rapamycin could also be found in mice: it increases the Recyclingfunktion namely only in female animals. The function of male mice is naturally higher.

One another research group scrutinized the results of extending life in mice. They found that rapamycin primarily inhibited the growth of tumors. These were the most common cause of death in the mice. They concluded that rapamycin does not have a rejuvenating effect per se, but instead prolongs the life of the mice because they do not succumb to the cancer as quickly. In addition to the pure lifespan, this working group also examined movement and learning behavior, vision, calcification of the arteries, the functioning of the cardiovascular system and that immune system , as aging is a complex process. To date, there has not been a comparably broad study of an anti-aging agent. The researchers did not find any overall rejuvenating effects of one year’s use of rapamycin related to these factors.

Conclusion: Overall, the effects of rapamycin on factors associated with cell aging are quite impressive. However, so far only in animals. For humans, the question of dosage would be highly relevant, since immune suppression as a side effect is out of the question.

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