Long-lived plant yields longevity compound
The American Aging Association’s annual meeting held in San Antonio, Texas was the site of a presentation on June 1, 2007 by Richard A. Miller of the University of Michigan that NDGA, a synthetic derivative of the desert shrub creosote, extends the median life span of mice.
Creosote is one of the hardiest and longest lived plant species. The shrub forms new rings of stems, which live up to 200 years, from existing original cores estimated in some cases to be as many as 11,000 years old.
The University of Michigan as well as the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas, and the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine are currently testing NDGA and other compounds for the National Institute on Aging Interventions Testing Program. The researchers administered NDGA to mice on normal diets and compared them with mice that did not receive NDGA. At the point at which half of the control mice had died of natural causes, known as median lifespan, a significantly greater number of male mice that received NDGA were alive. The compound did not appear to affect female mice.
“We don’t know how NDGA is having its effect on survival in this first analysis,” stated Dr Miller, who is a professor of pathology at the University of Michigan Medical School and associate director of the UM Geriatrics Center. “It may be that the female mice because of their hormonal status have other pathways to death and disability, or need higher or lower levels of NDGA to see an effect.”
The preliminary results will be published in the August, 2007 issue of the journal Aging Cell. Over the next six to ten months, the researchers will determine whether NDGA also affects maximum life span, a term that describes the greatest number of years that a particular species is known to survive. “If NDGA turns out to extend maximal lifespan by 20 or 30 percent, people would accept that as an important finding,” Dr Miller noted.
“The National Institute on Aging decided to fund grants at three institutions to do studies of this sort in the right way,” Dr Miller stated. “This is the first time to my knowledge when an agent has been shown to extend median life span in three laboratories.”
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