It seems that the Moai Statues hold the secrets of the fountain of youth. A drug called Rapamycin —a bacterial by-product—was found to live in the shadow of Eastern Islands famous Moai statues and is believed to increase lifespan and improve a number of conditions related to aging.
The bacteria is called Rapamycin after Rapa Nui, the native Polynesian name from Easter Island.
Over 50 years ago scientists at Easter Island came across a natural drug that was hiding in plain sight inside the soil at Easter Island. Now, over half a century later, scientists are calling it the anti-aging fountain or the fountain of youth.
The drug called Rapamycin is a bacterial by-product which can be found living in the shadow of Eastern Islands most famous statues the Moai. The bacterial by-product has shown to increase lifespan and improve a number of conditions allegedly related to aging.
The bacterial-byproduct known as Rapamycin was first spotted by microbiologist Georges Nógrády from the University of Montreal in 1964.
Researchers report that the anti-aging properties of the bacterial by-products have been demonstrated across a range of different organisms. Tests performed on flies, mice, dogs and even humans have shown positive results.
However, scientists warn that there is a ‘catch’ related to the prolonged use of the drug.
Three years after Georges Nógrády spotted the bacterial by-product, in 1969, researchers discovered the potent immunosuppressant which targets a protein called mTOR. This is believed to be a central system for nutrient signaling and can prevent cancer cells from dividing.
Ever since the discovery, researchers have managed to obtain more information related to the drug, including its ability to help fight solid tumors and even prevent organ rejection in patients that have undergone transplants.
According to reports from NCBI, the compound, which binds the proteins FKBP12 and mTOR, blocks the activity of mTORC1, which coordinates nutrient information.
Pharmacological manipulation of mTOR signaling holds therapeutic promise and has entered clinical trials for several disorders.
“Most of the things that we know work in mice, to either correct disease or extend longevity, we have no idea if they will work in humans or other mammals,” says Adam Salmon, of the Barshop Institute for Longevity & Aging Studies.
Recent studies performed on yeast, nematode worms, and fruit flies have shown that suppressing the activity of mTOR extended lifespan.
A study from 2009 revealed more fascinating results as researchers discovered that by administrating rapamycin to adult mice their lifespan was increased between 6 and 9 percent.
Since then, scientists have ventured out and tested the drug in humans.
Initial tests yielded positive results.
According to researchers, they have discovered improvements in certain aspects of aging, learning and cognitive functions of human beings.
Recently, experts from the University of Washington tested the effects of rapamycin on dogs.
Researchers obtained the first results after only a few weeks revealing that dogs who were given rapamycin showed improved heart functionality.
The study was led by biologist Matt Kaeberlein and his colleague, Daniel Promislow.
As further tests continue, researchers still warn that it isn’t clear whether or not mTOR inhibitors are safe for long-term use.
‘It’s not optimized for what we want – which is treating disease or slowing aging,’ Brian Kennedy, president and chief executive officer of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging told C&EN, ‘but it’s pretty darn good at what it does, and if we can tweak it in ways that make it better, I think there’s a really exciting opportunity.’