[Jan. 24, 2023: Jennifer Morgan, University of Liverpool]
Repurposing drugs capable of extending lifespan and health span has a huge untapped potential in translational geroscience. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)
Repurposing drugs capable of extending lifespan and health span has a huge untapped potential in translational geroscience.
Individuals over 65 are now the fastest-growing demographic group worldwide, a fact that emblematizes the global aging population. Unfortunately, at present, with age comes age-related chronic disease and death, and as such, the estimated benefits of delaying aging, even if the effect is rather small, are immense.
A large body of evidence has demonstrated that the aging rate can be markedly slowed in model organisms. So far, caloric restriction (CR) is the most robust antiaging intervention, and CR promotes longevity across species.
However, studies of CR in humans have had mixed results, low compliance, and many side effects, meaning finding medications that can mimic the effect of caloric restriction is the most reasonable antiaging target. However, only a few compounds have been identified to mimic the beneficial effects of CR.
Researchers have found that the drug rilmenidine can extend lifespan and slow ageing.
Published in Aging Cell, the findings show that animals treated with rilmenidine, currently used to treat hypertension, at young and older ages increases lifespan and improves health markers, mimicking the effects of caloric restriction.
They also demonstrate that the healthspan and lifespan benefits of rilmenidine treatment in the roundworm C. elegans are mediated by the I1-imidazoline receptor nish-1, identifying this receptor as a potential longevity target.
Improved survival of C. elegans treated with rilmenidine. (CREDIT: Aging Cell)
Unlike other drugs previously studied for this purpose by the researchers, the widely-prescribed, oral antihypertensive rilmenidine has potential for future translatability to humans as side-effects are rare and non-severe.
To date, a caloric restriction diet has been considered the most robust anti-aging intervention, promoting longevity across species.
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)
However, studies of caloric restriction in humans have had mixed results and side effects, meaning finding medications like rilmenidine that can mimic the benefits of caloric restriction is the most reasonable anti-aging strategy.
Professor João Pedro Magalhães, who led the research whilst at the University of Liverpool and is now based at the University of Birmingham, said: “With a global ageing population, the benefits of delaying ageing, 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.”
This study was undertaken by researchers from the University of Liverpool, ETH Zürich and Harvard Medical School, and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, LongeCity and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
For more science news stories check out our New Discoveries section at The Brighter Side of News.
Note: Materials provided above by University of Liverpool. Content may be edited for style and length.
Like these kind of feel good stories? Get the Brighter Side of News' newsletter.