Murine elixir

Rapamycin a compound derived from soil microbes on Easter Island three decades ago is well known as a potent immunosuppressant used in organ-transplant surgery. Now, the same compound is earning a new reputation as a possible elixir of life ... at least for lab mice. University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and collaborators have found that rapamycin added to the diets of middle-aged mice (600 days being equivalent of 60 years in humans) extended the predicted lifespan of the mice by more than a third in some cases. "I never thought we would find an anti-aging pill for people in my lifetime; however, rapamycin shows a great deal of promise to do just that," says Arlan Richardson, director of the Barshop Institute. This is the first convincing evidence that the aging process can be slowed and lifespan extended by drug therapy starting at an advanced age.