Ibuprofen, one of the most popular painkillers, can now be used to slow down ageing process and death by combating arthritis, a new UK study claims.
Scientists have succeeded in unveiling a strong biological link that exists between chronic inflammation caused by an over-active immune system, accelerated ageing and associated diseases, and shortened lifespan.
AdvertisementThey also discovered that the widely used over-the-counter painkiller ibuprofen could act as a simple and cheap antidote against the toxic effects of chronic inflammation.
In a series of experiments conducted on inflammation-prone mice that were genetically engineered to age fast, researchers discovered that ibuprofen served the dual purpose of suppressing the animals' inflammation, as well as restoring their ageing rate to normal levels.
Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used daily by millions of people around the world to treat headaches, muscle aches, sprains and flu symptoms.
While trying to figure out the association between inflammation and ageing, scientists found that inflammation emitted oxygen-free radicals, which are destructive reactive molecules, which in turn caused damage to DNA and telomeres which function as protective "caps" on chromosomes.
Telomere loss led to a state of arrested growth and normal functioning of cells, also known as "senescence" which is believed to cause ageing. Greater senescence led to further generation of free radicals, creating a vicious cycle.
Scientists found that NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and anti-oxidants, can resist the accumulation of senescent cells.
Diana Jurk, one of the scientists, said: "The most important result of the study is that treatment with a simple and cheap anti-inflammatory drug, ibuprofen, could reverse the progression of cell senescence and restore the ability of tissues to regenerate."
The scientists are now focusing on human patients, including a group of around 200 people with Parkinson's disease, also affected by accelerated ageing.