Age related diseases can be treated using drugs (such as Metformin or Rapamycin)
In a very important development scientists have successfully managed to enhance the life span of mice and also have reduced the number of age related diseases. The research mainly involves blocking of key molecular pathway and suggesting the health benefits of reducing calorie intake and drug treatment for ageing and related diseases. Earlier scientists have shown that by restricting calorie intake and maintaining regular diet can lead to stable health and longevity.
The term calorie restriction appeared to increase the life span in animals as well as in primates. The case is also true for human beings but it does not ensure longevity. Initially scientists from the Institute of Healthy Ageing at UCL (University College) London discovered changes in the ageing process in a strain of knockout mice which were unable to produce a particular protein known as S6 Kinase 1 (S6K1).
S6K1 is responsible for body response in changing the levels of food that we eat which helps the body to respond properly in terms of growth and reproduction. Professor Dominic Withers and colleagues researched that deleting the S6K1 protein in mice has a wide range of health benefits which appear to mimic the action of calorie restriction. Male mice show little difference in their life span while female counter part showed dramatic changes. Blocking the action of the S6K1 protein helps prevent a number of age-related conditions in female mice. It was seen that mice lived longer and were leaner, more active and generally healthier than the control group.
Researchers compared the knockout mice with the normal ones at age 600 days. The female knockout mice were leaner, had stronger bones and did not show the usual age-related decline in insulin sensitivity and were therefore protected from type 2 diabetes. Even the T cells of female mice were more youthful which indicates slow decline in immunity. The male knockout mice were also leaner than their wild-type equivalents, had less insulin resistance and had healthier T-cells. The findings suggest that calorie restriction acts via the S6K1 pathway. The beneficial effects of blocking S6K1 were mediated via increased activity of AMPK which is known as fuel gauge as it regulates energy levels within cells.
Drugs like metformin use to treat type 2 diabetes activate AMPK. Recent studies have shown that this drug also enhances the life span in mice. Along with metformin another drug known by the name of rapamycin also extends life span in mice. This drug is used as immunosuppressant in humans and so could not be use as anti ageing drug. The combine study provides evidence that this is a drug-sensitive pathway controlling mammalian ageing.
One of the study's authors, Dr David Gems assures that they are certainly much closer to treat ageing and have come a long way from initial findings in worm models to having drug gable targets in mice. This study reveals a biological pathway that may prove as a key factor in understanding the relationship between ageing and chronic illness.