Rapamycin: “An anti-aging drug today”?

Noted biologist (and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Cell Cycle) Mikhail Blagosklonny reviews the biogerontology of the TOR (“Target Of Rapamycin”) pathway, and proposes that the eponymous drug rapamycin, aka sirolimus, might itself be useful as an anti-aging pharmaceutical.

Numerous mutations increase lifespan in diverse organisms from worms to mammals. Most genes that affect longevity encode components of the target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway, thus revealing potential targets for pharmacological intervention. I propose that one target, TOR itself, stands out, simply because its inhibitor (rapamycin) is a non-toxic, well-tolerated drug that is suitable for everyday oral administration. Preclinical and clinical data indicate that rapamycin is a promising drug for age-related diseases and seems to have anti-tumor, bone-sparing and calorie-restriction-mimicking ‘side-effects’. I also discuss other potential anti-aging agents (calorie restriction, metformin, resveratrol and sirtuins) and their targets, interference with the TOR pathway and combination with antioxidants.

I’m a little surprised that the author is proposing that rapamycin itself be used as an anti-aging drug: it’s an immune suppressant used to prevent transplant rejection, after all, and long-term immune suppression is usually considered one of the downsides of receiving a transplant. Furthermore, there are concerns that rapamycin can impair wound healing — another trait I wouldn’t look for in a chronically administered pharmaceutical.

Nonetheless, it’s a provocative idea, and the article provides a great many references to primary work describing the role (or possible role) for TOR in aging-related phenomena ranging from cellular senescence to calorie restriction.

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11 comments

  1. This is quite outrageous claim. Rapamycin as you pointed out is a very potent immune suppressive, it is only warranted under conditions such as transplantation to stop organ rejection. It would be very dangerous to take otherwise, you would likely die from infection early, let alone live longer. It is amazing how people come up with these ideas as anti-aging drugs!

  2. Snowcrash — I actually just double-checked to see whether this was an “early online” publication of an article dated April 1, but it’s not. So Misha at least is serious about it.

  3. The same guy proposed this idea last year already:

    http://www.imminst.org/forum/index.php?act=ST&f=175&t=12655&hl=rapamycin&s=

    As pointed in wikipedia about rapamycin safety:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapamycin
    As with all immunosuppressive medications, rapamycin decreases the body’s inherent anti-cancer activity and allows some cancers which would have been naturally destroyed to proliferate. Patients on immunosuppressive medications have a 10-100 x increased risk of cancer compared to the general population.

  4. Yeah, it’s still rather puzzling as they used BSA-adjusted 15mg in the mouse study. I mean we’re using 2 and 5mg for immuno-suppression. Sure this won’t kill you…

  5. The doses at which rapamycin is an immunosupressant in mice are much higher than at which it extends lifespan. Having said that I think the new drugs against TOR are likely to hold greater promise.

  6. This sounds great .Is it on the market ?
    What are the ingrediants ? I have a lot of Allergies . Price ? I am 74 yrs old and quite healthy .Please answer all questions .

    Nancy

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