Frank Madeo, professor at the Institute of Molecular Bioscience at the University of Graz, Austria, recently presented a study on the human lifespan increasing potential of spermidine, a naturally occurring chemical compound, at the Healthy Ageing Conference.
In 2009, Madeo and his colleagues found that spermidine encourages a cellular self-cleaning process known as autophagy. When autophagy occurs, destroyed material accumulated during the aging process is then digested to restore the energy needed by the cell in times of starvation. The team discovered that spermidine encourages longevity and autophagy in a variety of non-human species such as flies, worms, and yeasts. . It also defends the organisms against age-related diseases like dementia.
The findings led to a breakthrough in research, with other labs currently working on ways to combat age-associated diseases through the administration of spermidine. This research is transferable to different fields, including muscle degeneration, age-induced immune dysfunction, and stem cell pluripotency (the ability to give rise to other cell types) during aging.
This doesn’t mean that humans will live forever, but we may be able to prolong “health span”, according to Madeo. Healthy aging is more a result of a healthy lifestyle than family genes.
While currently, there are no known side effects, Madeo notes that, as with anything, it can likely be overdone. He says the moderate supplements that are commonly used in mice during research tests, have “reportedly” shown no side effects of any kind.
The first human clinical trial, which is currently ongoing, gives a spermidine-rich, wheat germ dose to the elderly. The following clinical trial will take place in Padova, Italy, to prove whether spermidine can stop muscle loss affiliated with age or disease.