Experts have suggested that a common pain relief, taken by millions of Americans, could help us to live for longer.
Ibuprofen is a non-steriod anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) available over the counter in pharmacies and used to relieve the symptoms of aches, pains and fever in the body. But now scientists have revealed that it could also provide an extra 12 years of good health.
In trials, the lives of worms and flies were extended to the equivalent of about 12 years in human terms by taking ibuprofen. Not only did the creatures live longer, but their general wellbeing and fitness were also maintained.
Of course, there is a huge genetic gap between simple flies and worms and human beings, but scientists are excited about the results.
Lead researcher Professor Michael Polymenis, from Texas A&M University in the US, said: ”We are not sure why this works but it is worth exploring further. This study was a proof of principle, to show that common, relatively safe drugs in humans can extend the lifespan of very diverse organisms.
”Therefore, it should be possible to find others like ibuprofen with even better ability to extend lifespan, with the aim of adding healthy years of life in people.”
Ibuprofen was first developed by Boots in the 1960s and became available globally in the 1980s.
In the trials three organisms were exposed to ibuprofen – baker’s yeast, the lab worm Caenorhabditis elegans and the fruit fly. The doses were around the amounts equivalent of those taken by humans. Once exposed the different organisms experienced around an extra 15% to their lives, which is equivalent to 12 years in human terms. They also appeared to be healthier.
The results were published in the online journal Public Library of Science Genetics.
Co-author Dr Chong He, from the Buck Institute for Age Research in California, US, said: ”Healthy worms tend to thrash a lot and the treated worms thrashed much longer than would be normally expected. As they aged, they also swallowed food much faster than expected.”
It is believed that the extended life comes from the ibuprofen interfering with the ability of yeast cells to pick up tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid protein building block that is found in every organism and an essential nutrient obtained in the diet from protein.
The scientists do not know why this process of blocking the yeast cells aids longer life, but fellow team member Dr Brian Kennedy said: ”There is a lot to be excited about. Not only did all the species live longer, but the treated flies and worms appeared more healthy.
”The research shows that ibuprofen impacts a process not yet implicated in ageing, giving us a new way to study and understand the ageing process.”
He added: ”Our institute is interested in finding out why people get sick when they get old.
”We think that by understanding those processes, we can intervene and find ways to extend human health span, keeping people healthier longer and slowing down ageing. That’s our ultimate goal.”
Source – The Telegraph