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A radical new class of anti-ageing drugs that may extend life well beyond 100 could be available within as little as two years, an expert has claimed.
Professor Nir Barzilai, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said treatments developed for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s could be used to tackle the many causes of unhealthy ageing, such as metabolic problems, cell-death, inflamation and cholesterol.
The claim reflects his own work to identify genetic traits that predispose some towards a “ripe old age”.
Speaking at the Royal Society in London for a discussion meeting on the science of ageing, Prof Barzilai said: “Pharmaceutical companies are developing these drugs now. They will probably be available for testing from 2012.”
Among the substances being looked at are sirtuins, a family of enzymes associated with a range of age-related diseases including type 2 diabetes and cancers, and another enzyme called cholesterol ester transfer protein which affects levels of “good” cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein.
GlaxoSmithKline, the UK’s biggest pharmaceutical company, Merck & Co and Roche have launched research and drug development programmes into the drugs, with results expected in the coming years. Smaller companies, such as Massachusetts-based Proteostasis, are investigating other pathways involving the cell-growth chemical insulin-like growth factor-1.
Copyright Press Association 2010
Albert Einstein College of Medicine