It’s been discovered that the antibiotic rapamycin, which suppresses the immune system in transplant patients and is used to treat certain cancers, prolongs the life of mice, says a report in Nature.

The effect was discovered by accident when researchers found that a group of mice being fed rapamycin were not getting the proper dose in their bloodstream. They then made the drug into capsule form that fed the doses slowly into the intestine.

The mice were at an age equal to about 60 in human years. Researchers found however that their lifespan increased by 14 percent in females and nine percent in males.

“It’s no longer irresponsible to say that following these up could lead to medicines that increase human life span by 10, 20 or 30 percent,” said Richard A. Miller, one of the researchers involved.

It will be at least 10 years before matters are sorted out, Miller said, but, as of right now, “I don’t think there’s any evidence for people that there’s any drug that can slow aging down.”

However any drug which suppresses the immune system should not be experimented with out of the laboratory and no one knows if rapamycin slows aging in people, or just mice, or at what dose it might be effective.

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