Study Shows Drug Increases Life Span of Obese Mice

Researchers’ ability to extend the lifespan of obese mice leaves hope for overweight humans

As the rate of obesity continues to grow in the United States, scientists may have some hope for overweight humans. A recent study found that a certain drug improved the survival rate and overall health of obese mice, indicating potential long-term benefits for humans and animals alike.

The obese adult mice who received SRT1720, a drug similar to an ingredient found in red wine that’s thought to activate protective proteins, lived 44 percent longer than obese mice that received no treatment. Certain health benefits contributed to the increased lifespan, including reduced fat accumulation in the liver, increased insulin sensitivity, and enhanced locomotor activity.

“These findings indicate that SRT1720 has long-term benefits,” the researchers wrote in the study, which was published in the August issue of Scientific Report. The results, they wrote, demonstrate for the first time the ability to develop drugs that are “safe and effective in promoting longevity and preventing multiple age-related diseases in mammals,” with no signs of toxicity.

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To test the drug, researchers put a group of one-year-old male mice on a high-fat diet and monitored them throughout their entire lifespan. Another group of low-fat mice were also fed a dose of SRT1720, but at a lower dose. That group’s lifespan increased only by 11 percent, compared to 44 percent for the high-fat group, despite their “rapid and robust weight gain.”

However, despite the significantly increased lifespan of the obese mice, the control group of normal-weight mice still outlived their counterparts by 31 weeks. Whether or not the drug extended the lives of the control group was not tested. Therefore, if the drug were to work on humans, it’s unclear whether the health benefits would apply to those at a normal weight.

In addition, SRT1720, developed by pharmaceutical company Sirtris, may never be put into clinical trials, the New York Times reports, because Sirtris believes another similar drug, SRT2104, may be more suitable for humans.

For more information, click here to download a PDF of the study.

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.