Extending the human lifespan might sound impossible to some people or even unethical to other (depending on religion), but it’s something that eventually we will have to discuss. Many scientists do believe that ageing is just a consequence of being, just like a car eventually breaks down unless it is repaired, a human needs some periodic repair too. And this is not crazy at all, there are a lot of clues pointing to that being the future of medicine. All the major diseases that affect developed countries, are diseases of old age, thus preventing those diseases with periodic maintenance of our health makes a lot of sense. And there are many ways this can be accomplished too.
This article focused on some drugs. Specifically drugs that have been approved by the FDA, therefore they are safe. Some of them weren’t supposed to be used in this context. Most of the drugs tested were drugs that target proteins in order to treat a disease. But some side effects could and as we see later did result in a change in the lifespan. The organism used for this testing was the rotifer. This may result in a different effect of those drugs in humans and further testing will be required, but this shows promise. It shows that changes in the lifespan by drugs can happen in animals, thus potentially in humans too.
4 drugs, erythromycin, carglumic acid, capecitabine, and ivermectin, reported promising results, with up to 42% increase in the rotifer lifespan and even 8% in middle aged rotifers. Those drugs are involved in inflammation and mitochondrial function but some of them that did also affect the lifespan in a positive way had completely different functions. Traditionally, inflammation, mitochondria and telomeres for example are very typical targets for ageing, but drugs that target cancer cells, not so much, or those that are given for diabetes. So, this study may give some clues for where to look next to find treatments for ageing.