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Rapamycin May Slow Alzheimer’s Disease

1 year, 11 months ago

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Posted on Nov 12, 2019, 2 p.m.

Rapamycin is an FDA approved drug that was originally used an immunosuppressant often in the prevention of transplant rejection, but recently the drug has become one of the most promising anti-aging and longevity research drugs. 

UT Health San Antonio research suggests that rapamycin may be able to slow the rate of brain related blood flow decreases and brain vascular deterioration. The brain uses a lot of energy but to function the brain also needs glucose and oxygen, with age blood flow reduces and so does brain performance. This study suggests that this decline may be slowed or even stopped with rapamycin, and offers the potential of reducing the rate of aging as well as the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Middle aged 19 month old rats were put on a daily diet that included a low dose of rapamycin until they reached 35 months of age, which is considered to be old age. Geriatric rats left untreated have considerably lower blood flows than when they were younger. These treated geriatric rats blood circulation was unchanged from when they began treatment; according to report author Dr. Candice Van Skike, “older rats treated with rapamycin looked like middle-aged rats in our study.” 

Rapamycin targets TOR which is a master regulator of cell growth, this has been beneficial for anti-cancer use, this research suggests that TOR also drives loss of synapses and blood flow during the aging process, and inhibiting the process keeps blood flowing later in life. 

This trial adds to the growing body of evidence indicating that rapamycin has value in the anti-aging and longevity healthspace. Another study involving C.elegans also provided promising results suggesting that a cocktail of rapamycin, Allantoin and Rifampicin could double their life expectancy from a few weeks to between 44-50 days. Should these results be reproduced in humans it would be a groundbreaking game changer.

Although these studies demonstrate great potential one must keep in mind that what is observed in animal studies often does not translate to humans. Additionally both mice and worms tend to age faster than animals of a comparable size making it hard to be certain that they provide a reliable indicator of likely human impact. Dr. Steven Austad of the University of Alabama argues that using the drugs on dogs may provide a more realistic comparison. 

“Aging is the strongest risk factor for dementia, so it is exciting that rapamycin, a drug known to promote longevity, may also help preserve the integrity of brain circulation and memory performance in older adults,” said Sudha Seshadri, MD, professor of neurology at UT Health San Antonio and director of the Glenn Biggs Institute. “We are already studying the safety of the drug in persons with mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to dementia as a collaboration among Biggs and Barshop researchers.”

Rapamycin did modify these process and showed remarkable retention of blood flow in these studies demonstrating the potential that it may promote increased health and lifespan. Even though the drug is gaining increased recognition as an anti-aging and longevity drug used in low doses it does carry some caution such as an increased risk of diabetes. It will still be some time before human trials, but this study proves that rapamycin is a promising candidate that may reveal even more surprises yet to come in the anti-aging and longevity market. 

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