The large, carefully controlled study at three sites, called the NIA Interventions Testing Program, is intended to provide some of the first reliable data on potential drugs to slow aging and its accompanying ills.
Miller says prior studies typically have been too small and their results hard to confirm in subsequent studies. “The National Institute on Aging decided to fund grants at three institutions to do studies of this sort in the right way,” he says.
In six to 10 months, once all the mice in the control group have died, the scientists will get answers to the really burning question: Will the mice fed NDGA, already well past middle age, live past the normal outer limit of old age" The longest that mice of this type usually live is around 1,000 to 1,100 days.
“If NDGA turns out to extend maximal lifespan by 20 or 30 percent, people would accept that as an important finding,” Miller says.
No one excited by these early results in mice is advised to bulk up on creosote bush leaves as a way to defy old age. If NDGA pushes the aging envelope in the final results of this study, other labs will likely try to repeat the results in animals. Much more research is needed before any possible human anti-aging drug could emerge, Miller says.
“Even if this agent turns out to be good for mice, it won’t be possible to tell without careful studies of humans whether NDGA is beneficial, useless, or harmful to people. Occasionally, something that is harmless in mice turns out to be highly toxic for people,” Miller cautions, adding that the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t evaluate the safety of such herbal remedies.
Source:University of Michigan Health System