SAN ANTONIO -- There is no fountain of youth, but could a commonly used drug bring new hope to help the elderly live longer and healthier lives?
UT Heath Science Center signed an agreement with Rapamycin Holdings, Inc allowing the emerging company to acquire the rights to intellectual properties of a well-known drug, Rapamycin. The FDA approved drug is typically given to organ transplant patients.
A team of researchers with UT Health Science Center spent years studying the drug, in mice. In a huge discovery, researchers concluded it improved memory in mice with Alzheimer's.
Now, there might be hope of slowing what is often a painful aging process in elderly humans suffering from diseases like Alheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
"If we can in the elderly extend the period of life when they are healthier and they are not in the doctor's office we can really significantly reduce the cost of health care,” said Dave Sharp, professor of molecular medicine.
The professor believes age slowing drug could have the potential to prevent the onset of illnesses affecting the elderly: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and some forms of cancer.
"We envision it as a pill and that's what Rapamycin Holdings is working to develop,” said Sharp.
He thinks it might also help prevent hearing loss, vision impairment or help remedy arthritis. The goal is to offer seniors extended years with some quality of life.
This groundbreaking technology could also stimulate the local economy and open the city to more people entering the medical science field.
"This helps us accomplish the SA 2020 vision, by increasing jobs at a high pay and scientific level,” said Sheryl Sculley, San Antonio City Manager.
Sharp also said any development of a drug to slow the aging process is still years away.
UT Health Science Center Researchers have been recognized by TIME Magazine, Nature and Science—getting accolades for this major scientific work.