Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Research Yields Anti-Aging Hope Derived from Creosote Bush

Article excerpt

A synthetic derivative of a pungent desert shrub is a front- runner in experiments to find out if certain chemicals, known to inhibit inflammation, cancer and other destructive processes, can boost the odds of living longer.

Kenneth Hensley, an Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist, is co-author of a new research paper on early results from a mouse study being conducted for the National Institute on Aging. The study, now in its fourth year, will test as many as two dozen possible anti-aging agents in animals within the next five years.

The scientists were surprised to find so quickly that one agent showed promise: NDGA, a compound derived from creosote, or chaparral, bushes. The common North American desert shrubs have been traditionally used by American Indians as healing remedies.

The preliminary results, published online in the journal Aging Cell and appearing in the August print edition, show that male mice fed a normal diet and NDGA so far have survived in significantly greater numbers than mice on a normal diet. Scientists measured the difference at a point called median lifespan, when half the control mice had died of natural causes associated with aging.

No significant difference occurred in female mice. The scientists can't explain why at this point.

Hensley devised the idea of studying NDGA's effect on aging after observing that it extended the lives of mice affected by a condition similar to Lou Gehrig's disease.

"Based on those results, we decided to administer it to healthy mice," said the OMRF researcher. "Not only did the mice tolerate NDGA well, but they appeared younger, healthier and had stronger hind legs than normal mice."

The large, carefully controlled study is being conducted at three sites and is intended to provide some of the first reliable data on potential drugs to slow aging and its accompanying ills. …