, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 41-51
Date: 11 Mar 2011

Aging and cancer: can mTOR inhibitors kill two birds with one drug?

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The main risk factor for a number of diseases, including cancer, is aging. By delaying the effects of aging, many years of research indicate that diseases associated with aging are reduced by prolongevity interventions such as reductions in caloric intake and mice genetically deficient for growth factors. Although studies of dietary and growth factor restriction have been highly informative regarding the aging process, they are both unrealistic for human application. Recent preclinical results with a pharmacological prolongevity agent (rapamycin) provide a proof-of-concept that such an approach is feasible in human populations. Exactly how rapamycin works to extend lifespan is under increasingly intense investigation. In addition, these studies underscore the critical role that the intracellular target of rapamycin (TOR) plays in one of the deepest mysteries of life, aging. How age-associated diseases interface with TOR and its signaling systems, and the tremendous opportunities for discovery of new drugs that target both aging and its associated diseases is one of the most exciting areas of research currently being conducted in this new era of aging research.