Rapamycin, manufactured by Pfizer, is a protein that controls cell growth and metabolism in response to nutrients, growth factors, cellular energy, and stress. It’s is used as a anti-rejection agent in kidney transplant patients aged 13 years and older.
Researchers at Drexel University, first showed that Rapamycin improved cell function and slowed aging in cultured cells. They then asked whether this drug would also have the same positive effect on humans — and did a clinical trial to answer their question.
Rapamycin: Study Results On Humans
Researchers tested the drug on 13 volunteers, aged 40 years and older. The participants applied Rapamycin cream to the back of one hand and a placebo cream to the back of the other hand every 2 days before bedtime. Patients were tested every 2 months over an 8 month period.
Skin wrinkles decreased and general appearance improved in the group receiving Rapamycin.
Blood samples were taken at the 6-month visit and skin biopsies were done of both hands at the 8-month visit.
Blood test results showed that the drug had not entered the bloodstream.
At the end of the testing period, at 8 months, hands that received Rapamycin showed an increase in collagen, a reduction in the p16 protein, less wrinkles and smoother skin.
Collagen is a protein that gives skin its structure, and p16 is a measure of cell aging and deterioration. Of course, aging skin displays many wrinkles and folds.
Human skin with high p16 levels show a higher risk of infection, are more fragile, and heal more slowly. These are all characteristics of aging skin.
The researchers are now developing a protocol to test whether lower doses of Rapamycin can also delay the human aging process.
They foresee applications that include improving human performance, reversing the aging process and extending lifespan.
Right now, Rapamycin treatment shows it can reverse skin aging at both the molecular and clinical levels.