March 2, 2014

FASTER, PLEASE: Compound That May Mimic Calorie Restriction Extends Life Span in Mice.

A synthetic chemical that may mimic the effects of eating a low-calorie diet extends life span in mice, a new study has found. Previous research showed that mice on a high-fat diet lived longer when given this compound, known as SRT1720; the new work shows that mice on a standard diet also benefit from it. This study is just the latest in an extensive effort to find compounds that may help slow aging and aging-related diseases. . . .

Recently, scientists have been testing synthetic chemicals that activate sirtuins much more efficiently than resveratrol, including SRT1720. The newest study, published in the February 27 Cell Reports, found that SR1720 extended the life span of mice on a standard diet by about 9 percent. They also confirmed their earlier work indicating that the compound extends the life span of mice fed a high-fat diet.

“I think the data in the paper is compelling,” says sirtuin researcher Leonard Guarente of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is not a co-author of the study, although he is a consultant for a company involved in the research. He acknowledges it is impossible to say for sure that SRT1720 is activating sirtuins and nothing else. But “that qualification would hold for really any pharmacological intervention,” he observes.

It may be a long time before SRT1720 makes it into human medication, however, if it does at all. Even then, it would likely be targeted at specific ailments such as heart disease or diabetes, not longevity, says Rafael de Cabo, a researcher at the National Institute on Aging and the senior author of the paper. “There is no such a disease called ‘aging,’ defined by the F.D.A.,” he says. “You cannot process an application for a drug for curing aging.”

Well, the FDA needs to get its act together.

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