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Thanks to the advancements in medicine and science, the life expectancy of the global population continues to steadily rise. However, what’s the point of living longer if you’re going to spend it battling age-related diseases like cancer, arthritis, dementia, and heart disease?


There are various ways in which you can promote your longevity, as well as support your healthspan, such as by adopting habits like regular exercise and following a healthy diet. Now, while we can’t diminish the anti-aging effects of these lifestyle habits, a new study has suggested that the cancer drug treatment 
Rapamycin could be the pharmaceutical intervention needed for a longer and healthier life. 

Rapamycin: An anti-aging drug?

Also known as sirolimus, rapamycin was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for cancer treatment due to its ability to suppress the immune response by inhibiting cell growth in post-transplant patients. While it’s been known for its anti-cancer properties, researchers soon realized that it may also contain anti-aging properties. 

Previous research has highlighted the longevity benefits of rapamycin administration, but there is a concern that chronic rapamycin administration can have adverse effects, regardless of how low the dose is.

That said, the idea is that shortening the treatment could curb the negative effects. In fact, short-term treatments in late life have been previously found to extend lifespan in mice, as well as enhance the immune response in older people. With that said, researchers are unaware if the benefits of late-life treatment are comparable to chronic rapamycin administration. The question is whether it is better to be exposed to rapamycin at a younger age in order to gain the benefits of the chronic treatment. 

To assess this, a recent study published in Nature Aging set out to better determine if a brief treatment period could provide the same anti-aging benefits without the potentially serious adverse effects that come with chronic administration. For the study, researchers administered rapamycin to young adults drosophila, a type of fruit fly, at various ages and for differing durations.

What are the longevity benefits of Rapamycin?

Extends lifespan

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As seen in the previous studies done on mice, the rapamycin treatment was found to extend the lifespan of the fruit fly. Rapamycin was administered in late life, 30 or 45 days of life, and increased the lifespan of female fruit flies.

However, the study found that rapamycin did not prolong life when it was administered at day 60, which is considered old age.

Improved gut health

If there’s one way to improve longevity, then it’s through gut health. According to the findings of the study, the gut not only remained healthier during both short-term and chronic treatment, but it also experienced improved gut barrier function.

What now?

It’s clear that rapamycin can prolong the life span in both mice and fruit flies, but what can it do for the human body? 

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While more research is certainly needed to answer this question, it is comforting to know that there may be a longevity drug that exists to ensure our healthspan.

Want to know more?

While we still have to wait to understand how rapamycin can better protect our lifespan, Dr. Daniel Meyersfeld has found a way to improve our lifespan and encourage healthy aging. According to him, DNA testing provides us with the necessary tools and information we need to achieve a healthier lifespan

References

Bitto, A., Ito, T. K., Pineda, V. V., LeTexier, N. J., Huang, H. Z., Sutlief, E., Tung, H., Vizzini, N., Chen, B., Smith, K., Meza, D., Yajima, M., Beyer, R. P., Kerr, K. F., Davis, D. J., Gillespie, C. H., Snyder, J. M., Treuting, P. M., & Kaeberlein, M. (2016). Transient rapamycin treatment can increase lifespan and healthspan in middle-aged mice. eLife5, e16351. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.16351

Juricic, P., Lu, YX., Leech, T. et al. Long-lasting geroprotection from brief rapamycin treatment in early adulthood by persistently increased intestinal autophagy. Nat Aging (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43587-022-00278-w

Mannick, J. B., Morris, M., Hockey, H. P., Roma, G., Beibel, M., Kulmatycki, K., Watkins, M., Shavlakadze, T., Zhou, W., Quinn, D., Glass, D. J., & Klickstein, L. B. (2018). TORC1 inhibition enhances immune function and reduces infections in the elderly. Science translational medicine10(449), eaaq1564. https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aaq1564

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

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