A drug commonly used in humans to prevent transplanted organs from being rejected, helps extend the expected lifespan of mice by up to 14 per cent - thus bringing an anti-aging pill closer to reality.
The study was led by three different US institutions, namely the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine.
David Harrison, who led the arm of the experiment that took place at the Jackson Laboratory, found that rapamycin, a compound first discovered in the soil of the Easter Island, extended the lives of middle-aged mice by 28 percent to 38 percent - even when given late in life.
The rapamycin was given to the mice in their food at an age equivalent to 60 years old in humans.
"You've probably heard the phrase 'chance favours the prepared mind', and this is an example of it," Nature magazine quoted Harrison as saying.
Matt Kaeberlein, whose group at the University of Washington in Seattle works on ageing in mice, yeast and worms, also said that rapamycin might be mimicking the effects of dietary restriction, the only robust way to extend life in mammals until now.
However, both Harrison and Kaeberlein are yet to ascertain whether the drug could extend human life.
Harrison said: "I wouldn't do it myself and wouldn't encourage anyone to do it at this point."
But that has not let him to drop the idea of daydreaming about it.
He laughingly added: "Of course, you can imagine we've been considering it ourselves. I'm 67, so it's just about time for me to start my treatment, isn't it?"