While the ageing process undoubtedly impacts our bodies and organs as we get older, scientists are praising a new clinical trial which has found an experimental anti-ageing drug may have the potential to rejuvenate immune systems and protect older people from fatal respiratory infections.
The findings, published in the journal of Science Translational Medicine, found people over the age of 65 involved in the trail who received a combination therapy of two anti-ageing compounds weren’t as likely as people on placebos to experience infection. In fact, people on the therapy were half as likely to report them.
Known as mTOR inhibitors, the experimental medication also increased participants’ responses to the flu vaccine with an increase of 20 per cent more flu-fighting antibodies in the blood in the month following the flu injection. There are now hopes researchers will be able to develop new drugs and medication to assist when it comes to preventing the ageing process.
“Immune function was just one of the things that got better,” researcher Joan Mannick explained to The Guardian.
The medication was effective because it blocked a series of events in the body that typically begin with mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR). mTOR are also known as a group of proteins that are a huge part of the ageing process. Previous tests on mice have revealed mTOR inhibitors have the potential to not only revitalise the organs and immune systems, but also increase lifespan.
The six-week trial analysed two separate mTOR inhibitors, with 264 participants receiving either one mTOR inhibitor, the two inhibitors, or a placebo. Each group was studied for a year so researchers could analyse the level of respiratory infections picked up and immune system responses.
People on both inhibitors reported 1.49 infections a year, while the placebo group reordered 2.41. Researchers also noted immune systems become weaker in older people, thus increasing the risk of infection. They also don’t respond as well to vaccinations. This means medication that can boost immune systems in the older population could prove beneficial when it comes to protecting people against potentially deadly infections.
Researchers will now investigate if the trial medication is more effective in some groups over others. They will particularly be looking at people aged 85 and over and how the medication can assist with health conditions including heart failure, diabetes and asthma.
“We hope we can keep everybody healthier and with a better quality of life as they grow older,” Mannick added.