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Anti-aging agent discovered in worms
Roundworms, also called nematodes, are among the best researched organisms. Each of their genes is identified and every cell is biologically documented. Based on these precise findings, a research team has now succeeded in deciphering the genetic mechanism behind the aging process. The team was able to increase the life of the worms tenfold by genetic manipulation. In further trials, they identified active ingredients that could also extend human life by around 30 percent.
A collaborative project between Russian and American researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) discovered a number of active substances in nematodes that are said to slow down the aging process of humans. The results of their research were recently published in the renowned scientific reports.
Is the secret of longevity dormant in nematodes?
The Russian-American research group discovered a gene in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans that controls the aging process. The age of the worms is thus partially determined by this gene and is set to a period between 15 and 25 days. Through targeted mutation of the gene, the life span of this worm has already been increased tenfold.
New active ingredients for longevity
The researchers assume that the aging process can also be slowed down in humans. To this end, the team analyzed 1309 approved drugs. In ten drugs, they discovered suitable active substances that influence the aging gene in the desired way. Tests on the roundworms showed that the life of the nematodes was prolonged by the identified drugs. The most effective combination of active ingredients was able to achieve a 30 percent life extension.
Does this also work for people?
"We have shown that aging in nematodes is partially programmed and can be modified by therapeutic measures," comments Dr. Andrei Tarkhov the study results. He and his team believe that similar results can be achieved with multicellular organisms, including humans.
When will the new anti-aging drugs become available?
The active substances that prolonged the life of the nematodes came from already approved drugs. According to the researchers, they have already passed all the necessary clinical studies, which means that nothing stands in the way of rapid availability. According to Dr. Tarkhov could already use the drugs off-label. Off-label use is the prescription of a drug outside of its approved use. However, further studies will have to be carried out to determine whether a life-prolonging effect actually occurs in humans.
Breakthrough in aging research
"This study has several implications for aging research and the rapidly growing longevity industry," Tarkhov sums up. The researchers have shown not only that aging is treatable, but also that medication can slow this process down. Genetic manipulation was not necessary for this. The team also provided evidence with its gene expression analysis that the genetic profile of aging is similar in all living things and is therefore of fundamental importance not only for roundworms, but also for animals and humans.
These agents prolonged the life of the nematodes
The study lists the active ingredients that prolonged the life of the worms, but there is currently no information about the concentration or the composition of an anti-aging drug for humans. The following active ingredients, for example, had a life-prolonging effect on the nematodes:
- Anisomycin (used against bacteria and protozoa),
- Alsterpaullone (active ingredient for influencing cell growth and cell division),
- Azacitidine (active ingredient in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes and certain leukaemias),
- Metamizole (active ingredient for pain, fever and cramps).