This news release is available in German.
The findings are reported in the current issue of the "Journal of Clinical Investigation" (published online on July 25, 2013).
The body's repair mechanisms begin to fail with increasing age. As a result, signs of wear and tear appear and the risk for many diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and cancer, increases. "Current efforts to develop therapies against age-related diseases target these disorders one by one," says Dr. Dan Ehninger, research group leader at the DZNE site in Bonn. "Influencing the aging process itself may be an alternative approach with the potential to yield broadly effective therapeutics against age-related diseases."
In this context, the substance rapamycin is noteworthy. Rapamycin is used in recipients of organ transplants, as it keeps the immune system in check and can consequently prevent rejection of the foreign tissue. In 2009, US scientists discovered another effect: Mice treated with rapamycin lived longer than their untreated counterparts. "Rapamycin was the first drug shown to extend maximal lifespan in a mammalian species. This study has created quite a stir," says Ehninger.
For Ehninger and his team, this finding motivated further studies: "We wanted to address if rapamycin slows down aging in mice or, alternatively, if it has an isolated effect on lifespan - without broadly modulating aging."
Not a youth elixir
Together with scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen and other colleagues, Ehninger's group investigated if rapamycin influences aging in mice. The results are sobering: "Our results indicate that rapamycin extends lifespan, but it has only limited effects on the aging process itself," is Ehning
|Contact: Dr. Dirk Förger|
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres