Thursday, July 09, 2009

CR Study in Monkeys

The long awaited (20 years!) results of this study are finally out. The latest issue of Science has the scoop here. Here is the abstract:

Caloric restriction (CR), without malnutrition, delays aging and extends life span in diverse species; however, its effect on resistance to illness and mortality in primates has not been clearly established. We report findings of a 20-year longitudinal adult-onset CR study in rhesus monkeys aimed at filling this critical gap in aging research. In a population of rhesus macaques maintained at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, moderate CR lowered the incidence of aging-related deaths. At the time point reported, 50% of control fed animals survived as compared with 80% of the CR animals. Furthermore, CR delayed the onset of age-associated pathologies. Specifically, CR reduced the incidence of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and brain atrophy. These data demonstrate that CR slows aging in a primate species.

The NY Times has the story here. Here is an sample:

A long-awaited study of aging in rhesus monkeys suggests, with some reservations, that people could in principle fend off the usual diseases of old age and considerably extend their life span by following a special diet.

....Dietary restriction seems to set off an ancient strategy written into all animal genomes, that when food is scarce resources should be switched to tissue maintenance from breeding. In recent years biologists have had considerable success in identifying the mechanisms by which cells detect the level of nutrients available to the body. The goal is to find drugs that trick these mechanisms into thinking that famine is at hand. People could then literally have their cake and eat it, too, enjoying the health benefits of caloric restriction without the pain of forgoing rich foods.