With the world on the brink of a potential nuclear Armageddon, sea levels rising, and micro plastics poisoning our oceans as well as our bodies, perhaps the last thing on your mind right now would be how to extend the length of time you endure on planet Earth. However, scientists have discovered a way to extend the life expectancy of mice by ten percent – which some people are considering a potential answer to extending human life.
Scientists from Harvard Medical School, administered a drug called Rapamycin into 130 genetically different mice during the first 45 days of life through their mother’s milk. 40 other mice also took part in the study, acting as a control group, and were not provided with Rapamycin. All of the 170 mice were kept in exact conditions until they reached a natural end to their life.
Those mice who had received Rapamycin during the early days of their lives lived significantly longer than those who hadn’t. Not only did they live longer, but scientists also believed that the aging process actually slowed down in the male mice, taking them longer to progress through the normal life cycles expected in rodents. In addition, the male mice were also faster, stronger and healthier than normal.
But why would this be? Once the study had finished the scientists found that there were cellular changes that made the mice live longer. They appeared to have younger liver transcriptomes (genetic codes) giving additional fuel to the hypothesis than the secret to anti-ageing begins with our early development.
“Overall, the results demonstrate that short-term Rapamycin treatment during development is a novel longevity intervention that acts by slowing down development and aging,” the study explains, “suggesting that aging may be targeted already early in life.”
Researchers have also tested the drug on a crustacean with similar results.
Rapamycin is an immunosuppressive drug used in the treatment of cancers, as well as being used to prevent rejection during organ transplants, but has gained the attention of medical scientists as a potential anti-ageing drug.
This study could be merely the beginning to a whole new scientific breakthrough in extending life on earth. Although it appears to work in mice, the administration of Rapamycin for humans could be a long way away, with health implications for a human remaining unclear.