Repurposing drugs capable of extending lifespan and health span has a huge untapped potential in translational geroscience. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)
Researchers have discovered that a drug commonly used to treat hypertension can extend lifespan and slow down aging.
The study, which was published in Aging Cell, found that rilmenidine, a medication that is already prescribed for hypertension, can increase lifespan and improve health markers in animals that were treated with it. The drug was found to mimic the effects of caloric restriction, a well-known anti-aging intervention that has been shown to promote longevity across species.
The researchers found that rilmenidine could provide a promising anti-aging strategy due to its rare and non-severe side effects, making it a potential treatment for humans. Unlike other drugs that were previously studied for their anti-aging effects, rilmenidine has the potential for future translatability to humans, due to its widespread use and fewer side effects.
The study was led by Professor João Pedro Magalhães, who worked on the research while at the University of Liverpool and is now based at the University of Birmingham.
The research involved collaboration with scientists from ETH Zürich and Harvard Medical School. The research was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, LongeCity, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
Caloric restriction has been the most robust anti-aging intervention to date. However, studies of caloric restriction in humans have had mixed results and side effects. Therefore, finding medications like rilmenidine that can mimic the benefits of caloric restriction is considered the most reasonable anti-aging strategy.
The researchers found that the healthspan and lifespan benefits of rilmenidine treatment in the roundworm C. elegans were mediated by the I1-imidazoline receptor nish-1. They identified this receptor as a potential longevity target. This suggests that rilmenidine could provide a promising approach to slow down the aging process in humans by targeting the nish-1 receptor.
Improved survival of C. elegans treated with rilmenidine. (CREDIT: Aging Cell)
Professor Magalhães commented, “With a global aging population, the benefits of delaying aging, even if slightly, are immense. Repurposing drugs capable of extending lifespan and healthspan has a huge untapped potential in translational geroscience. For the first time, we have been able to show in animals that rilmenidine can increase lifespan. We are now keen to explore if rilmenidine may have other clinical applications.”
The study’s findings have important implications for the development of new anti-aging therapies. The ability to use a commonly prescribed medication to slow down the aging process could revolutionize the field of aging research. Rilmenidine’s safety and effectiveness could also make it a viable alternative to caloric restriction, which is often difficult to follow and has unwanted side effects.
Induced autophagy by rilmenidine perturbed polyQ aggregation. (a) Representative images of day 2 adult transgenic animals, expressing the intestinal specific autophagy reporter gene. (CREDIT: Aging Cell)
The researchers hope to further investigate the potential benefits of rilmenidine for human aging. In the meantime, they recommend that further research is conducted to explore the full range of health benefits that the drug could offer.
The researchers’ findings could have a significant impact on the field of aging research, which is rapidly expanding as the global population ages. With the number of people over the age of 65 expected to triple by 2050, there is a growing need to develop effective anti-aging therapies that can improve health and extend lifespan.
Characterization of NISH-1. Schematic diagram illustrating exons of nish-1 gene, alongside translated protein motifs and the deleted regions in the homozygous nish-1 mutant. (CREDIT: Aging Cell)
Rilmenidine’s potential as an anti-aging drug could revolutionize the field of aging research and provide a new avenue for improving human health and extending lifespan.
The researchers’ findings have important implications for the future of anti-aging research and could lead to the development of new, more effective anti-aging therapies in the future.
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