A commonly used skin care ingredient is one of several newly identified compounds that can mimic the life-extending effect of a starvation diet, a new study has found.
Using complex genetic data analysis and testing, scientists have shown for the first time that allantoin, which is found in botanical extracts of the comfrey plant and is an ingredient of many anti-ageing creams, can mimic the effect of calorie restriction and increase lifespan in worms by more than 20 per cent.
Calorie restriction — a reduction in calorie intake without malnutrition — has been found to slow down the ageing process in several animal models from worms to mammals, and developing drugs that can reproduce this effect, without the side effects, could have widespread human applications.
“Calorie restriction has been shown to have health benefits in humans and while more work is necessary, our findings could potentially result in human therapies for age-related diseases,” said study lead author Joao Pedro de Magalhaes from University of Liverpool in Britain.
To identify potential calorie restriction mimetic compounds, the team made use of existing molecular signatures from human cells and treated with a variety of small-molecule drugs.
The researchers found that worms treated with allantoin, rapamycin, trichostatin A and LY-294002 not only lived longer, but also stayed healthier.
Molecular analysis of allantoin suggests it acts by a different mechanism from rapamycin, a well-known longevity drug.
“Testing anti-aging interventions in humans is not practical, so developing computational methods to predict longevity drugs is of great use,” Shaun Calvert from University of Liverpool noted.
The study was published in the journal Aging Cell.