This month we are introducing the last of the four newest Mprize competitors
. Significant cash Prizes are awarded for Longevity, breaking the world record for the oldest-ever mouse, and Rejuvenation, the most successful late-onset rejuvenation of a mouse. The amount won is in proportion to the size of the fund and to the margin by which the previous record is broken. Bruce Teter is competing for the Mprize.
That yellow spice in your curry may add more than flavor. Bruce Teter is optimistic about the possibility that curcumin, which is the element of the spice turmeric that gives it its color, will extend the life of mice.
Methuselah Foundation was a catalyst in this intriguing study. Kevin Perrott, a Methuselah Foundation volunteer, heard Bruce Teter speak about curcumin and suggested that he contact Steven Spindler. Steve holds the Methuselah Foundation Mprize for rejuvenation. Steve and Bruce didn’t know each other even though they are both researchers at the University of California, Bruce at Los Angeles and Steve in Riverside. As a result of this collaboration Bruce’s idea is being put to the test.
In addition to the mice at Steve Spindler’s lab, three other labs are conducting tests. Those three labs are funded through ITP, the Interventions Testing Program of the National Institute on Aging (see related article)
. The ITP labs started with 3 month old mice to determine if curcumin intervention mimics the effects of Calorie Restriction in extending life. Steve’s lab started with 12 month old mice and will measure the effects of a unique preparation of curcumin to extend maximal lifespan with late-life treatment.
Bruce became interested in curcumin through his contribution to the development of curcumin as a therapeutic drug for Alzheimer’s disease. His interest in longevity developed through his work on the gene apolipoprotein E, which modulates the age of onset of Alzheimer’s disease and affects human longevity.
According to Bruce, “While two published studies have shown longevity effects of curcuminoids in rodents, there is no evidence that humans who consume a diet high in curcumin, or its source turmeric live longer because of the curcumin; the amount of curcumin in turmeric is low compared to the amount of curcumin used to show its longevity effects in rodents. You would have to eat a lot of turmeric to get enough curcumin; however, there is the possibility that lifelong consumption of turmeric-rich foods prepared in the right way would cumulatively have a longevity effect.” Curcumin has shown effects similar to Calorie Restriction, including anti-inflammation, antioxidant and anti-carcinogen.