This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

July 17, 2019

Slowing Down Aging with a Pill

For centuries, humans have looked for "a fountain of youth." While many drugs have already shown their effectiveness in increasing the lifespans of worms, fruit flies, and mice by slowing down an aging process, RTB101, a pill developed by resTORbio, has been found to be effective for humans.

The need is enormous
Not only in the US where in a decade, nearly 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older, but also worldwide, our populations are aging. Three out of 4 people over the age of 65 will have two or more serious health conditions. At 25 percent can expect memory lapses and fuzzy thinking, while 10 percent will develop dementia.

The scientist behind this breakthrough
An infectious disease specialist with a Harvard Medical School degree, Joan Mannick watches what she eats and walks on a treadmill every day. As she watched her parents age, her personal passion for the science of aging grew. Though they are the same age (90) and have shared the same lifestyle, her parents have aged completely differently. Her dad is robust and energetic, while her mother is frail and has dementia. Joan founded resTORbio because she saw that our society, our drug companies, and the medical profession, in general, were not addressing the suffering that happens as people age. She wanted to do something about it.

How it works
RTB101 and similar drugs work by restraining the production of an enzyme in the mTOR pathway. That pathway is a basic process that regulates growth and metabolism at a cellular level. As we age, part of this pathway, TORC1, seems to move faster, a condition associated with age-related health problems. What these drugs do is to inhibit the production of TORC1. RTB101 acts like calorie restriction and intermittent fasting without the deprivation. Scientists found mTOR while they were studying rapamycin, a drug that is used today to prevent organ rejection transplant patients. (mTOR is really short for "mammalian target of rapamycin."

Found oozing from bacteria on Easter Island
Scientists first found rapamycin oozing from bacteria discovered on Easter Island; surprisingly, it showed promise as a remedy for yeast infections. Later a Canadian drug company halted its development, because it seemed to negatively affected immunity. Then a few years later, rapamycin was brought back to become the antirejection drug Sirolimus and the cancer drug Everolimus. During their research, scientists became aware that rapamycin did not actually act like any other drug; its pattern of activity was unique. This Easter Island ooze made fruit flies, worms, and yeast cells live longer.

Early studies are very encouraging
But would it work in humans? In fact, we will soon know. RTB101 and similar drugs strengthened immune systems, cut risk for respiratory diseases, and may even have lowered the risk of urinary tract infections. Statistically, people who took 10 milligrams of RTB101 every day had 31 percent fewer respiratory infections (including colds, flu, bronchitis and pneumonia). There also had 52 percent fewer severe infections, too. Plus, the bodies of people with asthma performed even better, with 68 percent fewer infections.

Almost there
Designed in consultation with the USFDA, a phase 3 study of RTB101 for immunity and prevention of respiratory infections is likely to prove effective in hundreds of older adults. When the drug is successful, it could be approved for those uses as early as 2021. We expect to see this drug and others available for older adults within the next two to three years. The animal studies have been done and researchers are moving onto humans. It will not be long now.

Special thanks to AARP the Magazine for their article on this extraordinary breakthrough.


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