Washington: The immunosuppressive drug rapamycin has been found to increase longevity in mice - however, it has a limited effect on the ageing process itself, according to new research.
It is also unclear if the extension of life also correlates with prolonged health and vigor.
Dan Ehninger and colleagues at the German Center for Neurodegenrative Diseases, who evaluated age-associated characteristics in mice treated with rapamycin, found that the drug improved memory and spatial learning, reduced thyroid follicle size, and reduced body fat in older mice.
However, many of these same attributes were also improved in young mice treated with the drug, indicating an age-independent drug effect.
The prevalence of cancer, a common cause of mouse mortality, was also decreased in older treated mice.
The authors did find that rapamycin treatment had no effect on several age related symptoms, including cardiovascular and liver function, loss of muscle mass, strength retention, or balance.
These data suggest that rapamycin treatment may increase lifespan through reduction of cancer rates, and the drug may be useful for relief of some age related conditions.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.