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A Potential Antiaging Drug Is Coming Soon?

What is the drug closest to “antiagaing drug”? One might think of sirolimus, which is also known as rapamycin. In 2009, a research discovered that sirolimus can extend mice’s lifespan and might be able to delay senescence. Now, Dean Kellogg at the University of Taxes Health Science Center introduced sirolimus into clinical tests. The researchers reported satisfactory data on recent Science Translational Medicine, supporting the experimental results in 2009.


The molecular structure of sirolimus. *Image source: Wikipedia.

Sirolimus is a kind of macrolides compound and was firstly discovered and separated from bacteria on Easter Island—an island also known as Rapa Nui. Currently, sirolimus is mainly used in treating certain cancers and suppressing the rejection reaction of organ acceptors. Thus, “We don’t have sufficient information on how sirolimus works on the elderly.” Said Toren Finkel from NIH Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Therefore, Kellogg conducted a 16-week clinical study, during which, 5 old people between 80 and 90 used sirolimus with a dose of half of that for a patient who had been through renal transplantation. Some other subjects acted as control group. Kellogg happily introduced:” This medicine is surprisingly not harmful.” By far, the only side effect induced by sirolimus was diarrhea occurred on one of the old people.

Although the clinical trials are still in process, the researchers have found various benefits of this medicine. In their report at a symposium in Italy, they noted that people used siromilus for a course exhibited improved walking ability, though no significant enhancement showed in gripping power. The youngest subject in the experimental group (89 years old) needed 17 to 18 seconds to complete a 12-meter walk. After he used siromilus, he can finish the same distance in 7 to 8 seconds. What’s more, participants employed siromilus showed stronger response to hepatitis B vaccine.

In 2009, Richard Miller at University of Michigan and David Harrison at The Jackson Laboratory noted on Science that siromilus extended the lifespan of mice by 9-14%—which is the first discovery of a drug to extend a mammal’s life. However, this august, Dan Ehninger from German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases refuted Miller’s statement. They studied the influences of siromilus on 150 changes associated with aging and found that it can’t prevent some typical change occurrences of aging. Ehninger speculated that the reason that mice lived longer was because siromilus suppressed the occurrence of tumors with a mechanism irrelevant to aging. However, such point of view immediately faced with the questioning from Matt Kaeberlein at University of Washington.

Currently, the property and function of this medicine is still in controversy in scientific community. However, Kellogg’s clinical test results might guide researchers from debates to an agreement. Brian Kennedy from The Buck Institute for Age Research said that scientists can find an alternate medicine that has same function with siromilus but much safer. No matter what the future trend is, “We will be able to find a drug with no severe side effect to delay aging.” Kellogg predicted.