The success of the study indicates the potential for using the drug to improve heart function in humans.
The Buck Institute study used laboratory mice at an age comparable to humans in their 70s. After three months of treatment with rapamycin, the mice showed improved heart function. Ultrasound images indicated their hearts were more efficient in pumping blood. The mice also spent more of their time on running wheels.
Cardiovascular disease (heart disease) is the leading cause of death in Americans, claiming approximately 600,000 lives and costing $109 billion each year. Scientists currently face the prospect that age-related diseases in the baby boomer generation could double the country’s health care costs. The new study, published in the online journal Aging Cell, marks some of the first evidence that the right drug treatment may be able to improve heart function in the elderly.
Rapamycin has previously been found to extend lifespan in animals. The Buck Institute research is the first, however, that indicates specific improved function. Rapomycin is already approved as safe for human consumption and used in treatment for certain cancers, for kidney transplant patients, and as an antifungal agent. Unrelated research by the Mayo Clinic will soon be conducted using rapamycin treatment on elderly individuals with heart disease.
The next step for Buck Institute researchers is to study mice on a year-long rapamycin treatment, with the hope of observing improved function in other tissues and bones as well.
This research comes with a caveat: there are questions about the long-term safety of treatment using such drugs. At Natural Eye Care, we are concerned about the way that prescription and non-prescription pharmaceuticals can harm the eyes. For example, NSAID drugs like naproxen, aspirin, and ibuprofen can cause eye hemorrhaging, glaucoma, and cataracts.