In a study published in the journal Developmental Cell, a cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs were recently found to extend the life of the microscopic worm, Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). The research was performed by a team of investigators and led by Dr. Jan Gruber at Yale-NUS College. The results of the study also found that the drug combination decreased the rate of ageing in these worms prompting its potential use a “life-extending drug” and opening the doors for further research on to drug design and aging.
"Many countries in the world, including Singapore, are facing problems related to ageing populations," explains Dr. Gruber, an Assistant Professor of Science (Biochemistry) at Yale-NUS College and Assistant Professor at the Department of Biochemistry of the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS). "If we can find a way to extend healthy lifespan and delay ageing in people, we can counteract the detrimental effects of an ageing population, providing countries not only medical and economic benefits, but also a better quality of life for their people."
The research team, in collaboration with Singapore Lipidomics Incubator (SLING) at the Life Sciences Institute of NUS, were seeking to understand at what extent can a healthy lifespan be extended by combining drugs targeting several pathways that are known to be implicated in lifespan determination. They administered combinations of two or three compounds that would target different ageing pathways to C. elegans. The results appeared to show that two specific drug pairs extended the mean lifespan of the worms more than drugs that were used individually.
When these two drugs were placed with a third compound, the lifespan almost doubled. The study published the first ever large lifespan extension than any other previously reported drug intervention for an adult animal. The treatments held no adverse effect on the worm's health.
The worms were able to lead healthy extended lifespans in good health.
Watch this brief introduction about about C. elegans:
The study served crucial for potential human ageing interventions. "We would benefit not only from having longer lives, but also spend more of those years free from age-related diseases like arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or Alzheimer's disease," Dr Gruber said. "These diseases currently require very expensive treatments, so the economic benefits of being healthier for longer would be enormous."