At the New Indications Discovery Unit at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, more than 200 people over the age of 65 took part in a clinical trial to test an experimental drug that may delay the onset of aging-related illnesses. Study participants were given the drug or a placebo for several weeks, and then given a dose of the flu vaccine. Those who received the drug developed approximately 20% more antibodies in response to the flu vaccine, and also had fewer white blood cells associated with age-related immune decline.
The drug is a version of rapamycin, which is in a class of drugs known as mTOR inhibitors. In young mammals, the mTOR genetic pathway promotes healthy growth, but this declines with age. The goal of the study is to investigate whether drugs like rapamycin can inhibit the effects of the mTOR pathways thereby delaying the onset of aging-related illnesses.
Dr. Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute forAging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine commented on the study: “It sets the stage for using this drug to target aging, to improve everything about aging. That’s really going to be for us a turning point in research and we are very excited.”
While there is still a lot of research needed, Dr. Barzilai suggests this study provides important data for improving the way age-related illnesses are treated.