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Longer Life, Less Aging With Seizure Drugs?

3 Seizure Drugs Extend Worms' Lives, Slow Aging
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WebMD Health News

Jan. 13, 2005 -- New clues have emerged about living longer and aging less. The key: three antiseizure drugs, which lengthened life spans and delayed aging in worms.

Granted, the worms only gained a couple of days. But in worm time, that's an eternity. In some cases, the drugs let the worms live more than 50% longer than normal. Signs of aging were also delayed.

The drugs weren't intended to fight aging or lengthen life. Instead, they fight seizures.

Two of the drugs, Zarontin and Tridione, are used to treat seizures in humans. The third drug, DEABL, is similar in structure but is not approved for human use in the U.S.

The drugs were studied by Washington University medical school researchers. Kimberley Evason and colleagues exposed worms to 19 drugs that affect human physiology. Different drug concentrations were tested under various conditions. The findings appear in the Jan. 14 issue of Science.

Zarontin extended life span by three days. That's a 17% increase. Dropping the temperature by two degrees to 59 degrees Fahrenheit let the worms live even longer, extending their life span by 35%.

Effects on overall life span were even greater with Tridione. On average, it lengthened the worms' lives by 47% and boosted maximum life span by 57%.

What's more, the worms didn't seem the worse for wear. The Tridione and Zarontin worms ate normally, didn't look gaunt, and had a normal number of offspring.

No one is suggesting that people take these drugs to extend life or fight aging. The drugs aren't approved for that use, and there's no proof that they would have the same results in people.

But the findings may still point the way to the fountain of youth. The drugs affect nerve activity in humans and other vertebrates, which could influence aging, say the researchers.

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