The MDI Biological Laboratory has announced that Aric Rogers, Ph.D., has received a grant of $455,000 over two years from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), one of the institutes of the National Institutes of Health, for research on the cellular mechanisms governing longevity. The grant will allow Rogers to delve more deeply into his discovery of a genetic regulatory mechanism that plays a critical role in extending longevity under conditions of dietary restriction (DR).
DR, which typically involves a dramatic reduction in calories without malnutrition, has been known for many years to extend lifespan and delay or reduce the risk of many age-related diseases in a wide range of species, from single-celled yeasts to primates.
The role of DR in prolonging healthy lifespan has set scientists on a quest to identify drug candidates called "DR mimetics" that mimic the effects of DR on longevity. The use of such drugs would allow patients to experience the health- and lifespan-enhancing effects of DR without the difficulty of adhering to a diet that drastically cuts calories.
The significance of Rogers' discovery lies with the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is already intensely focused on developing drugs to manipulate NMD because of its role in many genetic disorders and many forms of cancer. Rogers' discovery thus raises the possibility that these drugs could be repurposed to extend healthy lifespan.