1. ITV Report

The painkiller that could help you live longer - and stay healthy

A cheap over-the-counter painkiller taken by millions of people in Britain every day could have the hidden benefit of slowing down ageing, scientists have claimed.

Ibuprofen given to worms and flies appeared not only to extend their lives by the equivalent of 12 human years, but kept them fit and healthy as they aged too.

Ibuprofen appeared to extend the lives of worms and flies by around 15 per cent Credit:

The laboratory tests were carried out by Texas A&M University - and while there is a major evolutionary gap between the simple creatures and humans, the research team believes it could have major implications for mankind.

Prof Michael Polymenis said more research was needed.

We are not sure why this works but it is worth exploring further.

This study was a proof of principle, to show that common, relatively safe drugs in humans can extend the lifespan of very diverse organisms.

Therefore, it should be possible to find others like ibuprofen with even better ability to extend lifespan, with the aim of adding healthy years of life in people.

– Prof Michael Polymenis, Texas A&M University
The laboratory tests were carried out by Texas A&M University Credit: PA

Ibuprofen - a non-steroid-based anti-inflammatory - was first developed by British chemists Boots during the 60s.

It rapidly became one of the most widely-used drugs around the world, and is now included on the World Health Organisation's list of essential medications for every basic health system.

In the experiment, researchers exposed lab worms, fruit flies and baker's yeast to ibuprofen, in the same dosage as is taken by humans.

They found that the treatment added around 15 per cent to the life expectancy of the different species - and those given the treatment appeared much healthier in old age than those not given the treatment.

Ibuprofen was developed by Boots in the 60s Credit: PA

They believe the secret to its success may lie in ibuprofen's ability to block a particular amino acid protein building block called tryptophan, which is found in every living organism.

Brian Kennedy, from the Buck Institute for Age Research in California, welcomed the results of the tests.

There is a lot to be excited about. Not only did all the species live longer, but the treated flies and worms appeared more healthy.

The research shows that ibuprofen impacts a process not yet implicated in ageing, giving us a new way to study and understand the ageing process.

– Brian Kennedy, Buck Institute for Age Research in California