A recent study published in Aging Cell has revealed that rilmenidine, a drug commonly prescribed for hypertension, may hold the key to extending lifespan and slowing down the aging process. The research, led by Professor João Pedro Magalhães, formerly of the University of Liverpool and now at the University of Birmingham, demonstrated that rilmenidine mimics the effects of caloric restriction, a proven anti-aging intervention.

The study, conducted in collaboration with scientists from ETH Zürich and Harvard Medical School, showcased the drug’s ability to enhance lifespan and improve health markers in animals. Unlike previous anti-aging drug candidates, rilmenidine boasts rare and non-severe side effects, making it a promising option for future human treatments.

Caloric restriction has been a significant anti-aging intervention, but its application in humans has yielded mixed results and side effects. Rilmenidine’s potential to replicate the benefits of caloric restriction positions it as a sensible anti-aging strategy. The researchers identified the I1-imidazoline receptor nish-1 as the mediator of healthspan and lifespan benefits in the roundworm C. elegans, suggesting it as a potential longevity target.

Professor Magalhães emphasized the immense benefits of delaying aging in the context of a global aging population. Repurposing drugs like rilmenidine, with the capability to extend both lifespan and healthspan, holds substantial potential in translational geroscience. The study’s findings signify a breakthrough, marking the first demonstration of rilmenidine’s ability to increase lifespan in animals.

The researchers anticipate further exploration of rilmenidine’s clinical applications and potential benefits for human aging. This discovery has significant implications for the development of new anti-aging therapies, potentially revolutionizing the field and providing an alternative to caloric restriction with fewer side effects. As the global population ages, the study’s findings open a promising avenue for improving human health and extending lifespan through innovative anti-aging treatments.

By Impact Lab