A possible lifespan-extending drug has shown promising results in a marmoset (monkey) sample study. The drug, rapamycin, was shown to extend the lifespan of mice initially in 2009. However, concerns persisted about rapamycin’s viability as a long-term treatment due to unclear data on its metabolic side effects.

The new study resulted in minimal metabolic side effects in the marmoset sample after continuous, long-term treatment with encapsulated rapamycin. No overall effects on body weight – barring a small decrease in fat mass over the first few months of treatment – resulted from the treatment.

Rapamycin, an mTOR inhibitor, is used in recipients of organ transplants to prevent organ rejection. This study conducted by researchers at The University of Texas was the first to test the metabolic consequences of rapamycin dosing in healthy, non-human primates. As well as observing healthy metabolic function, the researchers found that the encapsulated dose was well tolerated by the marmosets.

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Adipose tissue displayed no differences in gene expression of metabolic markers following treatment but liver tissue exhibited suppressed G6Pase activity with increased PCK and GPI activity. Study results suggest that chronic and/or intermittent rapamycin treatment may improve health span and metabolic functioning.

Dr. Adam Salmon, principle investigator, thinks the findings are encouraging for human indications in the future. “These studies will provide an important step towards translational approaches to delay age-related disease and improve healthy aging in humans by means of pharmaceutical inhibition of mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin).”

Full findings of the study were published in the journal Aging. As a result of their positive findings, the researchers will begin a new rapamcyin study this month to determine the effects on lifespan and markers of healthy aging for a cohort of marmosets that have already reached middle age.

For more information visit txbiomed.org.