Who wants to get older? Or perhaps it is not so much about getting older that we hate than the signs of aging. Though medical science has enabled us to take on some killer diseases like cancer and heart trouble, they have not yet been able to lay their hands on a magical potion which could help the human race stay perpetually young. In a path breaking discovery, the renowned pharmaceutical company Novartis claims to be getting close to developing a drug capable of fighting the side effects of the process of aging.
Researchers at the drug company say their studies suggest that older people who were administered a drug that zeroes in on a genetic signaling pathway associated with immune function and aging, showed a remarkable improvement in their immune systems.
The experimental drug which is an adaptation of a medicine called rapamycin was seen to enhance the participants’ immunity to flu vaccine by as much as 20%. Rapamycin belongs to the family of mTOR inhibitor drugs which have been shown to negate aging and aging-related diseases in mice and other animals.
Dr. Nir Barzilai, head of the Institute for Aging Research at New York City’ Albert Einstein College of Medicine, called the drug study a “watershed” moment in research into aging and health. Though seen to have a positive effect on rodents under laboratory conditions, the pioneering research by the drug manufacturer was among the first efforts to have suggested the possibility of the existence of a correlation between mTOR drugs and the process of aging in human beings.
“It sets the stage for using this drug to target aging, to improve everything about aging,” says Barzilai. “That’s unequivocally going to be for us a branch indicate in research, and we are really excited.”
At the same time, the genetic pathway was seen to have a disastrous outcome on mammals as they grow older, pronounced examine lead author Dr. Joan Mannick, executive of a New Indications Discovery Unit during a Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. Mannick called these findings as the “first baby step” towards developing an anti aging medicine, though he was not keen to suggest that it could lead to immune-boosting drugs for an elderly.
“It’s really critical to indicate out that a risk/benefit of MTOR inhibitors should be determined in clinical trials before anybody thinks this could be used to provide aging-related conditions,” she said.
Barzilai was, however, more optimistic about the findings of this research and says it could change the manner in which the diseases faced by us as we go older (like cancer and heart disease) will be treated in future.