After the diabetes drug metformin, a new compound found in common face creams has been found to have an effect on ageing. According to the researchers, a compound called allantoin mimics the life-extending effect of a starvation diet to slow down ageing, and hence helps increase lifespan.

Starvation diet, also known as calorie restriction, refers to a reduction in the number of calories consumed without malnutrition. It has been proved earlier in animal models that calorie restriction helps slow down ageing. The researchers believe that developing a class of drugs that could mimic the same effect could have a wide application in humans.

The latest research conducted by researchers at the University of Liverpool suggests that allantoin-–derived from botanical extract of comfrey plant-- can mimic the effect produced by calorie restriction and increase lifespan in worms by 20 percent.

"Calorie restriction has been shown to have health benefits in humans and, while more work is necessary, our findings could potentially result in human therapies for age-related diseases," said lead researcher Dr Joao Pedro de Magalhães, in a press release.

During the study, the research team first identified 11 potential compounds that could mimic the effect of calorie restriction. Five of these compounds were tested for effectiveness in nematode worms.

The team found that worms treated with trichostatin A, LY-294002, allantoin and rapamycin stayed healthier and lived longer. In mutant worms, the drugs worked in a similar fashion as calorie restriction would.

The research team believes that since testing anti-ageing interventions in humans is not a practical option, it would be best to develop computational models that predict the longevity of the drugs.

The complete details of the study have been published in the journal Aging Cell.

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