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Research on Worms Yields Clues on Aging

Humanity has been looking for a "Fontaine de Jouvence" forever; a way to slow or stop aging. While its still nowhere to be found, we are making progress; in worms. Researchers found that an epilepsy drug used in humans had the unexpected effect of prolonging the life span of C. Elegans: A class of anti-seizure medications slows the rate of aging in roundworms, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. When exposed to drugs used to treat epilepsy in humans, worms lived longer and retained youthful functions longer than normal. Because the drugs affect nerve signals, the researchers' observations suggest that the nervous system influences aging processes. The findings are reported in the January 14 issue of the journal Science.

The anti-aging effect was revealed in a random screening of 19 drugs approved for treating a variety of disorders in humans. "We didn't start with a hypothesis about what causes aging," says senior author Kerry Kornfeld, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of molecular biology and pharmacology. "We wanted to look in an unbiased way at available compounds to see if any of them happened to have anti-aging activity." The researchers grew the roundworm C. elegans in the presence of the 19 drugs and found that an anticonvulsant, ethosuximide, extended the worms' lives from an average of 17 days to an average of 20 days. Further tests on anticonvulsants revealed that they also increased life span, with the drug trimethadione having the largest effect and extending the worms' lives by 47 percent. The group then sought to uncover the underlying mechanism for the effect of the anticonvulsants. It was apparent that the drugs did not mimic the anti-aging effects of caloric restriction, because the worms had abundant food and looked well-fed. The researchers also demonstrated that anticonvulsants did not extend life by protecting the worms from pathogenic bacteria in thei
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Source:Washington University in St.Louis


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