Scientists may have cracked an ‘anti-ageing pill’ after they discovered a ‘fountain of youth’ hormone that can potentially extend a human’s lifespan by 40 per cent.
The hormone, called FGF21, has previously been found to boost weight loss but this latest study has discovered that it also plays an important role in stopping thymus gland from weakening with age, reports The Daily Mail.
Thymus glands are important because they produce T-cells, white blood cells, which are a vital part of our immune system and help to stop infections.
As we get older, the thymus gets fatty and eventually loses the ability to produce as many T-cells, and as the number of T-cells drops we slowly lose our ability to fight off foreign bacteria.
It’s believed that the low numbers of T-cells in the elderly is one of the main reasons why they suffer increased rates of disease and certain cancers.
However in experiments conducted on mice, scientists found that by increasing FGF21 levels they could stop thymus glands from getting fatty and weakening.
As a bonus it also increased their ability to produce new T-cells. This could potentially be used to extend the lifespan of humans in the future.
Professor Vishwa Dixit from the Yale School of Medicine led the team behind the discovery and said that boosting levels of FGF21 could be useful in helping the elderly and cancer patients fight infections, and hopes to further research whether giving FGF21 in a drug form could potentially extend human life.
Dr Donald Palmer, Associate Professor in Immunology at Royal Veterinary College and British Society for Immunology spokesperson, said:
This is a very interesting and encouraging study which demonstrates the possibility of delaying the age-associated decline in immune function that is recognised to occur in the aged.
So who knows, maybe in a few years your doctor will be prescribing a few pills around your 90th birthday to you through the next century.