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'Fountain of youth' pill helps people live longer
12-15-2010, 02:07 PM,
'Fountain of youth' pill helps people live longer
Quote:The medication contains the drug lenalidomide which stimulates immune cell production, something that slows down with age.

This improves the body's ability to fight off bugs or tumours which often causes an overall decline in health in older people.

Preventive measures such as flu jabs could also become more effective, scientists claimed.

Dr Edward Goetzl from the University of California called the drug a "fountain of youth pill".

He said: "We are definitely aiming for longer healthy lifespan and a shorter period of frailty."

The findings could improve the economic burden of caring for an ageing society.

Such small amounts of the drug are needed it is hoped the treatment would be almost side effect free.

In 2009, Dr Goetzl studied a group of 50 elderly adults through the National Institute on Aging, examining their levels of key cytokines (proteins that either attack viruses or bacteria or cause inflammation that leads to decline in health).

He discovered that truly healthy 70-80-year-old women had the same levels as healthy 20-year-olds.

However, some elderly men and frail women who showed increased levels of inflammatory diseases and weakened defences against infections tended to have lower levels of the first two cytokines, which are protective, and higher levels of inflammatory cytokines.

Lenalidomide appeared to raise these levels.

Dr Goetzl said the pill would not necessarily make people live longer but that they would be healthier and enjoy a better quality of life.

Large scale trials are expected next year. Dr Goetzl hopes that it will be given to over-65s alongside vaccines such as the flu jab.

Lenalidomide has a structural similarity to thalidomide, the drug marketed as a cure to morning sickness in 1961 until it was linked to birth defects.

Due to this similarity women of child-bearing age must take contraception while using it. Despite the low doses Dr Goetzl said he would never advise giving it to young women.

The findings will appear in the January issue of the journal Clinical Immunology.
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