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Could an aspirin a day keep the geriatrician away? Aspirin bottle

July 2005

by Will Sansom

Aspirin helps us with our temporary aches and pains and can be used to reduce the threat of blood clots, but could it help us age better? The Barshop Instituteís new Aging Interventions Testing Center, funded a year ago by the National Institute on Aging, is exploring that question about a compound found in almost every medicine cabinet.

"Aspirin is one of the first compounds under study because it is one of the best anti-inflammatory agents out there," said Randy Strong, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and co-director of the Aging Interventions Testing Center. "Many age-related diseases, such as Alzheimerís and Parkinsonís, involve inflammation."

Dr. Strong said animal studies have shown that anti-inflammatory drugs block or reduce effects of agents that cause Parkinsonís-like pathology and symptoms. Aspirin also is known to prevent the harmful effects of molecules called hydroxyl radicals that damage tissues, and is in clinical trials as a potential preventive agent against colon cancer.

Dr. Strong and his colleagues seek to find out whether or not lab animals receiving aspirin are less likely to develop cancer and other age-related diseases than animals not receiving aspirin. "Even if a compound such as aspirin does not make them live longer, it may keep them free of disease," he said.

The center is working with the San Antonio Cancer Instituteís geriatric oncology program. The SACI is a partnership of the Health Science Center and the Cancer Therapy & Research Center.


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