New drug could boost life span by up to 20 years in humans.
Rapamycin is a drug derived from a soil bacteria found only on Easter Island. In tests, mice were given the drug at around 20 months of age (equivalent to a 60 year old human), and their life span was boosted by between 8% and 13%.
The drug works as an immunosuppressant, and is thought to use the same biochemical pathways as calorie restriction, which is already known to extend life span in mammals. Because of the way it works, the same mechanism should work in many other life forms, including humans.
The down side is that as an immunosuppressant, taking it will increase risks of other infections if too much is taken too early in life. At this stage, however, the best bet seems to be to take it later in life, as one researcher points out “I think what most of us are hoping for, and are somewhat optimistic about, is the idea that you may be able to get an extra decade — possibly an extra two decades — of relatively good health.”