A new drug has the potential to extend life for overweight mice - and it may help humans of all sizes to live longer as well. Researchers say they've found a way to substantially increase the average life span of obese mice with a specially designed drug called SRT-1720. It protects the mice from diseases often associated with obesity by reducing the amount of fat in the liver and increasing sensitivity to insulin.
In trials, obese mice that used the drug lived an average of 44 per cent longer than obese mice that did not receive the drug. Rafael de Cabo, who led the study, says the findings "demonstrate for the first time the feasibility of designing novel molecules that are safe and effective in promoting longevity and preventing multiple age-related diseases in mammals." And the researchers clearly had humans in mind.
The study, which was published in Scientific Reports, opens with a discussion of rising obesity rates, and the consequences in terms of health care spending, as well as quality and length of life. One goal of the research is to find ways to promote Sirt1, a so-called "longevity gene" that helps people live longer, and which may partially prevent the ill effects of being overweight. Hopefully, no one will take the report as an excuse to abuse their body - although we suspect Homer Simpson would be pretty excited about the news.