NUTRITION 18th January 2017

The accidental miracle drug: Rapamycin

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The drug rapamycin, derived from soil in Easter Island, has been shown to increase the health and lifespan of dogs. Now scientists believe it could do the same for humans. If true, we could live up to the age of 120.

Washington University biologists Matt Kaeberlein and Daniel Promislow, tested rapamycin on dogs, who are known for their short lifespans; to assess its impact on aging. Initial results were staggering: dogs on the verge of death were resurrected, and in all cases, showed improved heart health.

In another study, it was found to increase the lifespan of mice by 30%. In human terms that equates to prolonging the life of a 90-year-old, to 120.

Rapamycin works by suppressing the protein mTOR, which is known to control our DNA and all metabolic activities that keep us alive. However, mTOR is also capable of shutting down the body’s internal detoxification process: autophagy. In the absence of autophagy, the body is prone to uncontrolled cellular growth, leading to cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.

When ingested, rapamycin mimics the effects of calorie deprivation, a prerequisite in suppressing mTOR, without the need to undertake an actual fast.

The drug was first discovered by scientists in 1965 and was in fact, a fluke. Scientists were probing the Pacific islands for soil bacteria containing anti-fungal properties. Instead, they left with something far greater.

Currently, use of the rapamycin is limited to transplant patients, where it is used to prevent organ rejection. But it’s potential has put it at the forefront of research efforts all over the world. It’s considered one of the most significant discoveries in modern medicine, with the power to fight aging and age-related diseases.

Until scientists have enough data to support the efficacy of the drug for human consumption, rapamycin continues to remain front and center of the health and longevity debate.

As always, pushing for health.

 

Photo Credit: Huw Lewis