Rapamycin is a medication that has been studied for its potential anti-aging properties. It's important to recognize that it's not yet FDA-approved for anti-aging use.
As a recent study by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging in Cologne and University College London showed, medication effects can vary enormously between women and men.
Rapamycin only delayed the development of age-related pathological changes in female fruit flies, according to the researchers. Biosex plays a critical role in determining anti-aging medications' effectiveness.
Women's life expectancy is significantly longer than that of men. However, women also have more frequent illnesses linked to ageing and drug interactions.
"Our long-term goal is to make men as healthy as women in later life," says Yu-Xuan Lu, one of the study's main authors.
To investigate the effect on the different sexes, the researchers administered rapamycin, an anti-aging medication that is usually used in cancer treatments and after organ transplantations. However, rapamycin did not alleviate age-related intestinal illnesses in female flies.
Rapamycin prolongs life only in female fruit flies. Credit: K. Link/Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing
rapamycin enhanced autophagy — the cell's waste disposal process — in female intestinal cells, according to the researchers. Male intestinal cells, however, already appear to have a high basal autophagy activity, which cannot be further enhanced by rapamycin.
Scientists may discover this effect of rapamycin in mice as soon as they received treatment with the drug. "We now study a underlying mechanism of these differences using flies," says Yu-Xuan Lu.
Linda Partridge, the senior author of the research, believes that sexuality may be a key to anti-aging drugs' effectiveness.
Jennifer C. Regan, Yu-Xuan Lu, Ralf L. Meilenbrock, Disna Kißler, Emilie Funk, and Linda Partridge, et al., 1 December 2022, Nature Aging. DOI: 10.1038/s43587-022-00308-7