Fountain of youth?

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 January, 2005, 12:00am

Man has sought for centuries to find the elixir of life that would reverse ageing. A team of US scientists think they have found it - a family of anticonvulsants that can prolong the lifespan of some worms by almost 50 per cent. The drugs are used to fight epilepsy - in humans.

Just because they work their anti-ageing magic on worms doesn't mean they would work on humans, right? Well actually, according to Kerry Kornfeld, who led a team at Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, on the breakthrough research, we humans are a lot like worms. The professor - whose work was profiled yesterday on the science website - explained that the genes and molecules that control the ageing process in worms generally exist in humans, too. Unfortunately, the drugs have been used mainly on children suffering from epileptic seizures, so medical data from this group doesn't help on the ageing front.

Professor Kornfeld cautions people against rushing to pressure their doctors for a prescription. It will take decades following controlled groups to find out if they really work.