London, Oct 5 (ANI): Taking a step closer towards a wonder pill that could extend people's lifespan by up to 25 years, scientists have claimed that over half of babies born in the new future in the UK and other wealthy nations will live to 100 years.
The drug, touted as the "elixir of life" drug, works by using a molecule called spermidine, which helps to protect the body against damaging chemicals known as free radicals.
The scientists, led by Dr Frank Madeo, of the University of Graz in Austria, hope that the findings could lead to the creation of drugs that dramatically slow down ageing, allowing people to be healthier for longer.
The findings come in line with a new study, which claims that the average life expectancy in Britain, which is currently 81 years, could jump to more than 100 years.
"Ageing results from complex processes that cause programmed cell death," The Daily Express quoted Madeo as saying.
"Here, we report that administration of spermidine markedly extended the lifespan of yeast, flies and worms, and human immune cells," added the bio-scientist.
Ageing is associated with the decrease of spermidine, which is known to be necessary for cell growth and maturation.
However, it was unclear if this was the cause or consequence of ageing.
The researchers saw that when the chemical was applied to old yeast cells their lifespan increased by a factor of up to four times that of untreated cells.
Similarly, the average longevity of fruitflies and nematode worms went up by 30 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, according to the findings.
In another experiment, just 15 per cent of human immune blood cells cultured in the lab survived after 12 days compared with 50 per cent of those treated with spermidine.
And when mice were fed the chemical for 200 days through their drinking water, the free radicals reduced by about 30 per cent, indicating "reduced age-related oxidative stress".
"One of the most widely accepted theories of ageing is the free radical theory, which attributes ageing to accumulating oxidative stress," said Madeo.
"Together, these data indicate supplementation of spermidine can retard ageing in several species," he added.
The findings suggest the chemical has this effect on cells and ultimately organisms as it provides an alternative mechanism for cellular "clean up".
The study has been published online in Nature Cell Biology. (ANI)