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Not Just A Pretty Face: Popular Skincare Ingredient May Boost Longevity

Posted on 20 December 2015

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Isolated from the Comfrey plant, Allantoin is a popular ingredient in many skincare regimens. According to new research it may increase longevity by mimicking the benefits of calorie restriction. 

Calorie restriction is a subject of debate within the longevity community, and on animal models success is variable. However, it remains one of the most proven ways of extending lifespan in many species, and molecules that mimic the effect at the molecular level have also been associated with protective effects – up-regulating repair and stress response mechanisms. One such molecule is resveratrol, which is responsible for the relatively recent red wine hype. 

Symphytum officinale, or Comfrey

Symphytum officinale, or Comfrey

In the search for more effective molecules that can mimic the known beneficial effects of calorie restriction with less of the starvation, researchers have discovered that Allantoin, isolated from the Comfrey plant, can extend the lifespan of certain worms by 20%. 

“We have known for many years that caloric restriction diets increase lifespan in all manner of organisms. However, except for the fanatical few, no one can maintain a 40 percent caloric reduction in the long term, and doing so can risk loss of bone mass, libido and fertility. Our findings could potentially result in human therapies for age-related diseases”

Scanning for new compounds

In the search for additional molecules that could have protective effects, a UK research team used date from the Connectivity Map, a database including molecular signatures from cells treated with different small molecule drug candidates. After analysing this data and matching it to the effects of calorie restriction, they arrived at 11 matching compounds. When they tested 5 of these, Allantoin emerged the most potent of the bunch. 

“We have shown so far that our compounds work in worms, but studies in mammalian models are now necessary. The next step for us is to understand the mechanisms by which allantoin extends lifespan, as this could reveal new longevity pathways”

While this is perhaps not a groundbreaking longevity breakthrough, Allantoin is a readily available, safe, cheap compound. If further experimental confirmation occurs, then it could relatively easily add to the list of beneficial supplements.

Read more at Science Alert

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