Scientists have discovered a new drug which they believe could reverse the effects of premature ageing and extend human life.
In an experiment, a team of U.S. scientists took skin cells from children with Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, a rare genetic condition in which babies rapidly grow old and look many times older than their age and die young but looking old. The disease causes levels of a mutant protein called progerin to build up inside every cell of the body, producing defects and rapidly ageing the cells.
The cells from these children were made healthy again by using a drug Rapamycin. This drug is used to suppress the immune system in organ transplants. It was created from a bacterium found in the soil on Easter Island -which lies more than 2,000 miles off Chile. This drug is also known as “forever young drug“.
In the latest research, the scientists, who included eminent genetic scientist Dr Francis Collins and collaborators from Harvard Medical School, studied the effect of the drug on skin cells from three children with HGPS.Treating them with the drug flushed the poisonous protein out of the cells and reversed the defects, effectively making them healthy again. The cells also lived longer.
According to co-authors of the study:
It is known that during ageing, our cells accumulate byproducts of normal cell function, said Dimitri Krainc, one of the co-authors of the study.
Our body’s ability to remove this debris declines with ageing and it is thought that even a small activation of this `debris removal’ system would extend the health and life-span of our cells and organs.