Monday, March 28, 2005

Pill that adds 30 years to your life

Tuesday March 29
LONDON: It has been the ultimate goal of alchemists and sorcerers for centuries - the ability to increase one's lifespan. Now Scottish scientists say they have unlocked the secret to an elixir of life.
According to Scottish daily Scotsman, a pill by Aberdeen University professor John Speakman, if taken once a day would keep a person healthier, able to work longer and would also extend age limit by up to 30 years.
Medieval alchemists had earlier tried in vain to make an elixir of life by dissolving gold in different liquids, while ancient Egyptians believed they could harness the power of the earth to create the Aqua Vitae.
But Speakman has identified a more realistic candidate - a hormone called thyroxine.
According to him, by altering the crucial biological process called metabolism, it is possible to reduce damage linked to ageing inside animal cells. "If you increase the metabolic rate of a mouse then it increases its lifespan," he said.
This idea of metabolising fast and dying old turns traditional scientific thinking - which assumes an animal's lifespan depended on the amount of energy it burned up - on its head.
Speakman claims the normal metabolic cycle that occurs every time we breathe results in highly reactive, toxic molecules of oxygen called free radicals that damages the DNA and other essential building blocks - resulting in the ageing of body tissues.
According to him, animals with faster metabolic rates actually produce fewer harmful free radicals. By creating drugs to replicate the effect, it would take longer for the damage caused by free radicals to occur, he said. "Because free radicals also play a role in causing cancer and other diseases, reducing the number produced can not only increase the length of time someone lives but increase their healthy lifespan," Speakman said. "We found making the metabolism in cells less efficient meant fewer free radicals were produced. In effect, a pharmaceutical target would pump up the metabolic rate to reduce the free radical production.
"We could see people retiring at the age of 80, so they will be productive for much longer. The social and economic impact of that would be profound," he said.
Speakman, who is set to reveal details of his research during a lecture at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, has already attracted backing from powerful players in the scientific community. He has been given a grant of 450,000 pounds by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to find a drug to stave off the effects of old age.
Over the next four years, Speakman and his team will examine the effects of thyroxine on mice to see if it helps them live longer. They also intend to look into what stage in life people would need to start taking the drug.
But he warned it could be at least 10 years before a drug finally reaches the market.


Blogger Dinakaran said...

I dont know why anyone would want to live 30 years more. If I were 'destined' to die around 70, then if i take the drug, i will live up to 100. I can hear my great grandchildren cry, "who asked him to take the drug?" and then curse the inventor.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Arattai Ambujammal said...

Recently saw a story in the news about monkeys being studied for "looks" and longevity. Scientists are leaning towards the belief that it is better to eat less than eat and burn the calories by metabolism. Lesser you eat (NOTE: not starve) slower the aging and greater the longevity.

11:20 AM  

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