Could a "miracle pill" add decades to human life? A doctor at UAB say it's very likely

Could a "miracle pill" add decades to human life? A doctor at UAB say it's very likely. (33/40)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (ABC 33/40/WKRC) - What would you do to live a longer life?

What would you do with a few extra decades?

These are questions that could be answered in the very near future.

A simple medication could extend your life.

"We really felt it's addressing some underlying aging process, cause all of these things get worse with age," UAB Dr. Steven Austad said.

Like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, even mental decline with aging.

"It was fixing all of them at the same time,"Dr. Austad.

The medication is called Rapamycin.

It's something Dr. Steven Austad, chair of the Department of Biology at UAB used three years ago in mice.

"It was really almost a miracle drug," Dr. Austad said.

Since then, it's gained a lot of attention for its ability to slow progression of disease and extend life.

Right now it's only approved for people who are sick with cancer and other serious illnesses.

But there's work being done to start human trials for healthy people.

"They're actually testing it in companion dogs and that's because we know dog health so well, next to human health we can assess dog health so well," Dr. Austad said.

And so far, it looks promising in dogs too.

The big question, could it do for humans what it does for dogs and mice?

Dr. Austad says we'll know soon.

"The first trial of a drug specifically designed to do this in humans will probably start in less than a year," Dr. Austad said.

Leigh Anne Gilbert and David Wilkerson, say they're on the fence about a product like this.

"Maybe the natural life you've been given is enough to accomplish all of the things you want to do, it's an interesting question though," Wilkerson said.

But they do have some ideas of what they would do with a little extra time.

"I think I'll make my bucket list three times longer," Gilbert said.

It seems far out there... Dr. Austad's says he would have been shocked to hear about something like this, when he first started in this field decades ago.

"I wouldn't have believed it for a second, in fact if you asked me this ten years ago, I would have said if we can get a couple of extra years of health that would be fabulous," Dr. Austad said.

But, the future is now...

"Now I'm thinking 10 to 20 years of extra good health is really very doable," Dr. Austad said.

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