Researchers have found that activating a protein called sirtuin 1 not only extends lifespan, but also delays metabolic diseases in mice. The study could pave way for new drugs that improve health and even slow down ageing.

Previous research has shown that SIRT1 is important for maintaining metabolic balance in several tissues. Also, drugs that increase SIRT1 activity are known to slow ageing in animal models, according to a news release. 

The study was conducted by Dr. Rafael de Cabo of the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health and colleagues. The team tested the effects of SIRT1720 that activates the protein SIRT1 on the health of mice.

In the study, the rodents were fed 100 mg/kg SRT1720 along with a standard diet.

Researchers found that the diet supplement increased lifespan by 8.8 percent. SRT1720 was also associated with lower cholesterol and improvements in insulin sensitivity, meaning that the rodents had lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Mice on the supplement were also leaner and had better motor co-ordination than other rodents.

"Here, we show for the first time that a synthetic SIRT1 activator extends lifespan and improves healthspan of mice fed a standard diet," says Dr. de Cabo in a news release. "It illustrates that we can develop molecules that ameliorate the burden of metabolic and chronic diseases associated with aging."

The study," "The SIRT1 activator SRT1720 extends lifespan and improves health of mice fed a standard diet," is published in the journal Cell Reports.

SRT1720 is known to reduce chronic inflammation and the results of the present study strengthen the idea that the molecule might be the answer for an "elixir of life." However, the research was conducted on animal models, meaning that they may or may not apply to humans.