A revolutionary class of drugs allowing healthy and productive lives for people up to and over the age of 100 could be available within two years, an ageing expert has claimed.
Leading age scientist Professor Nir Barzilai, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said treatments developed for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's could be used to tackle the causes of unhealthy ageing, such as metabolic problems, cell-death, inflammation and high cholesterol.
Grounding the claims in his own work to identify genetic traits predisposing some towards a longer life, Professor Barzali explained that the drugs, while billed as remedies for specific conditions to satisfy the demands of regulators, could actually be used to help people live to a "ripe old age".
Speaking at the Royal Society in London today for a discussion meeting on the topic, Barzali said: "Pharmaceutical companies are developing these drugs now. They will probably be available for testing from 2012."
A subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline is believed to be looking at sirtuins, a family of enzymes associated with a range of age-related diseases including type 2 diabetes and cancers, as a substance with the potential to slow the ageing process.
Merck & Co and Roche, meanwhile, are focusing their efforts on a separate enzyme called cholesterol ester transfer protein which affects levels of "good" cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein.