Dr. Mikhail Blagosklonny on Rapamycin Longevity Series

The world’s leading Rapamycin researcher, Dr. Mikhail Blagosklonny, has a long background in cancer research and one important discovery he made around 2000 was that Rapamycin slowed down senescent cancer cells in different ways. After that step-by-step, his interest in the longevity field increased and he developed the very interesting hyperfunction theory of aging.

He has made a huge contribution in moving the Rapamycin longevity field forward and his research papers have impacted many people. For example, the Rapamycin physician Alan Green who – thanks to these papers – took the decision in 2017 to start prescribing Rapamycin off label. Today, Alan Green has the biggest clinical experience in the area with more than 1,200 patients. A lot of other physicians have after that also taken these steps and one of those, for example, is physician Peter Attia.

Interview Table of Contents:

  • 02:32 Current situation and mission
  • 04:07 Why did Rapamycin not prevent his cancer?
  • 06:33 He develops a new type of cancer treatment
  • 08:32 Hyperfunction theory of age-related diseases
  • 10:38 mTOR drives age-related diseases
  • 13:00 Hyperfunction theory and the car analogy
  • 17:20 Difference between new and old version of hyperfunction theory
  • 19:58 Prediction based on hyperfunction theory
  • 21:38 Rapamycin seems to work at any age
  • 23:55 Rapamycin will not make you immortal
  • 26:21 Rapamycin delays lung cancer in mice
  • 27:44 Hyperfunction theory and hormesis
  • 29:13 Rapamycin combination with fasting or calorie restriction
  • 30:33 Rapamycin combination with Acarbose or low carb diet
  • 31:40 Rapamycin combination with exercise
  • 33:04 Exercise and longevity effect
  • 36:10 mTOR sweet spot
  • 38:44 Why do centenarians live a long life?
  • 40:36 Theory of accumulation of molecular damage
  • 44:04 Hyperfunction theory was initially rejected
  • 47:47 Rapamycin research that is missing
  • 51:44 Rapamycin and bacterial infection
  • 53:30 Rapamycin side effect on longevity dose regime
  • 55:50 Rapamycin and pseudo-diabetes
  • 58:51 Rapamycin combination of Acarbose or low carb diet
  • 1:00:09 Rapamycin and increase in lipids
  • 1:02:19 mTOR, mTORC1 and mTORC2
  • 1:05:22 Mikhail’s self-experimentation with Rapamycin
  • 1:10:41 Rapamycin and traditional medical care
  • 1:11:13 Rapamycin and unacceptable side effects
  • 1:14:26 Rapamycin and combinations to avoid
  • 1:16:55 Rapamycin and high protein intake
  • 1:18:08 Best time to start taking Rapamycin
  • 1:21:00 Does Rapamycin prevent cancer or not?
  • 1:23:52 Autophagy is a double-edged sword
  • 1:26:51 Important insight from his cancer
  • 1:28:38 Rapamycin rebound effect
  • 1:30:24 Difference between theory and practice
  • 1:32:45 Mikhail’s cancer and cancer treatment
  • 1:37:36 Rapamycin and danger

Dr. Blagosklonny’s Links:

Rapamycin resources:

Disclaimer from host Krister Kauppi:

The podcast is for general information and educational purposes only and is not medical advice for you or others. The use of information and materials linked to the podcast is at the users own risk. Always consult your physician with anything you do regarding your health or medical condition.

Aging-US: Hallmarks of Cancer and Hallmarks of Aging

“Hyperfunctional signaling directly drives age-related diseases.”

— Mikhail Blagosklonny, M.D., Ph.D.

Listen to an audio version of this press release

BUFFALO, NY- May 18, 2022 – Dr. Mikhail Blagosklonny published his new review paper in Aging (Aging-US) Volume 14, Issue 9, entitled, “Hallmarks of cancer and hallmarks of aging.”

In this review, Dr. Blagosklonny expands on Gems and de Magalhães’ notion that canonic hallmarks of aging are superficial imitations of the hallmarks of cancer. He takes their work a step further and proposes the hallmarks of cancer and aging based on a hierarchical principle and the hyperfunction theory.

“Here I present the hallmarks of cancer, depicted as a circle by Hanahan and Weinberg [1], not as the circle but hierarchically, from molecular levels to the organism (Figure 1).”

Figure 1. Hierarchical representation (from molecular to organismal levels) of the original hallmarks of cancer based on Hanahan and Weinberg. See text for explanation.

Next, Dr. Blagosklonny depicts the hallmarks of aging suggested by López-Otín et al. based on the hierarchical principle. 

“This representation renders hallmarks tangible but reveals three shortcomings (Figure 2).”

Figure 2. Hierarchical representation of the hallmarks of aging based on López-Otín et al. See text for explanation.

The first shortcoming that Dr. Blagosklonny notes is the lack of hallmarks on the organismal level. The second is that the relationship between hallmarks on different levels is unclear. The third is that the inclusion of genetic instability as a hallmark is based on the theory that aging is caused by the accumulation of molecular damage. 

“The molecular damage theory was refuted by key experiments, as discussed in detail [44–51].” 

Dr. Blagosklonny then uses the hyperfunction theory to arrange the hierarchical hallmarks of aging.

“Let us depict hallmarks of aging, according to the hyperfunction theory of aging (Figure 3).”

Figure 3. Hierarchical hallmarks of aging based on hyperfunction theory, applicable to humans. Non-life-limiting hallmarks are shown in brown color. See text for explanation.

Dr. Blagosklonny continues by discussing the key to understanding aging and aging as a selective force for cancer. He concludes this review by discussing the common hallmarks of cancer, aging and cell senescence.

“In organismal aging, cancer and cellular senescence, the same key signaling pathways, such as mTOR, are involved. This is why the same drugs, such as rapamycin, can suppress all of them.”

DOI: https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.204082 

Correspondence to: Mikhail V. Blagosklonny 

Email: Blagosklonny@oncotarget.comBlagosklonny@rapalogs.com 

Keywords: oncology, carcinogenesis, geroscience, mTOR, rapamycin, hyperfunction theory

Follow Dr. Blagosklonny on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Blagosklonny

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Launched in 2009, Aging-US publishes papers of general interest and biological significance in all fields of aging research and age-related diseases, including cancer—and now, with a special focus on COVID-19 vulnerability as an age-dependent syndrome. Topics in Aging-US go beyond traditional gerontology, including, but not limited to, cellular and molecular biology, human age-related diseases, pathology in model organisms, signal transduction pathways (e.g., p53, sirtuins, and PI-3K/AKT/mTOR, among others), and approaches to modulating these signaling pathways.

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Rapamycin Rules out DNA Damage Theory of Aging

Dr. Mikhail Blagosklonny gleans an important new discovery in aging research—deduced from recent studies on short-lived mice and rapamycin.

3D illustration of a mutated or damaged DNA strand

The Top-Performer series highlights papers published by Aging that have generated a high Altmetric attention score. Altmetric scores, located at the top-left of trending Aging papers, provide an at-a-glance indication of the volume and type of online attention the research has received.

Read Aging’s Top 100 Altmetric papers.

Listen to an audio version of this article

The exact mechanisms at play in the human aging process are still up for debate. A number of great minds in science have proposed plausible aging mechanisms and theories, such as DNA damage, telomere shortening, and DNA damage theories of aging. DNA damage theories suggest that aging is functional decline, caused by the accumulation of molecular damage. However, some scientists counterclaim that neither DNA damage nor telomere shortening limit lifespan or cause aging.

Dr. Mikhail Blagosklonny—an adjunct faculty member at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Editor-in-Chief at Aging, Oncotarget, Oncoscience, and Cell Cycle—gleaned an important new perspective from recent aging studies, which could have been overlooked. He expanded on this discovery in a recent research perspective that was published in February 2021 in an issue of Aging, entitled: “DNA- and telomere-damage does not limit lifespan: evidence from rapamycin.” To date, this research paper has generated an Altmetric Attention score of 43.

Rapamycin is a macrolide antibiotic that has immunosuppressive properties, regulates a key cellular growth pathway (mTOR), and has been at the center of numerous studies of aging since its discovery in 1964. Dr. Blagosklonny explains that, based on findings from recent mouse-model studies of rapamycin’s effects on short-lived mice, normal aging is not caused by the accumulation of molecular damage or telomere shortening.

“Here I discussed new evidence that normal aging is not caused by accumulation of molecular damage or telomere shortening: while extending normal lifespan in mice, rapamycin failed to do so in mice dying from molecular damage (Figure 1).”

Evidence From Rapamycin

In the study which Dr. Blagosklonny refers to, researchers genetically modified mice to artificially shorten telomeres, administered rapamycin to normal mice and the telomerase-deficient short-lived mice, and observed the effects. In normal mice, results were congruent with a number of other studies that found lifespan was significantly extended. In the telomerase-deficient mice, lifespan was shortened as a result of rapamycin. 

“While shortening lifespan by 18% in unnatural telomerase-deficient mice, in the same study in natural mice, rapamycin increased lifespan by 39% and healthspan by 58% (measured as tumor-free survival) [3].”

Given that rapamycin prolongs life in normal mice, Dr. Blagosklonny asserts that this study proves that normal lifespan is not constrained by telomere length. Telomeres only become life-limiting when they are artificially shortened to the point where rapamycin can no longer extend lifespan. Furthermore, Dr. Blagosklonny explains that although molecular damage and telomere shortening could be life-limiting, they ultimately do not limit life because quasi-programmed aging occurs at a faster rate.

“Although molecular damage accumulates, this accumulation is not life-limiting because quasi-programmed aging terminates life first (Figure 1A). Quasi-programmed (hyperfunctional) aging is life-limiting, because it is favored by natural selection.”

Quasi-Programmed (Hyperfunctional) Aging

In 2012, Dr. Blagosklonny wrote another widely-read research perspective that explains in great detail what his proposed hyperfunction theory of aging is, entitled, “Answering the ultimate question “What is the Proximal Cause of Aging?

“According to hyperfunction theory, aging is quasi-programmed, a continuation of developmental growth programs, driven in part by hyper-functional signaling pathways including the mTOR pathway [9].”

He explains that hyperfunction is an excessive, yet normal function that occurs later in life. Hyperfunction in this context does not necessarily mean an increase in function and, in some cases, it even means a decrease in function. The same pathways and functions that drive growth and development earlier in life, also drive age-related diseases later in life. Dr. Blagosklonny proposes that quasi-programmed (hyperfunctional) aging is favored by natural selection and is what limits life.

“It is hyperfunctional signaling pathways such as mTOR (one of many) that drive both growth and aging, causing age-related diseases that in turn damage organs, leading to secondary loss of function.”

Many signaling pathways interact with mTOR to drive aging, forming a network, including MEK/MAPK, NF-kB, p63, HIF-1, and many others. Dr. Blagosklonny suggests that, in theory, there could be a number of mTOR-independent factors of quasi-programmed aging that are life-limiting, as well. He goes on to exemplify several lines of evidence concluding that it is not molecular damage that causes normal aging or limits life—it is normal, quasi-programmed (hyperfunctional) aging.


Dr. Blagosklonny mentions a forthcoming review that will be entitled: “When longevity drugs do not increase longevity: Unifying development-driven and damage-induced theories of aging.”

“Once again, damage accumulates and must cause death eventually, but quasi-programmed (hyperfunctional) aging terminates life first. Molecular damage can become life-limiting, when artificially accelerated or, potentially, when quasi-programmed aging is decelerated.” 

Click here to read the full research perspective, published in Aging.

Aging is an open-access journal that publishes research papers monthly in all fields of aging research and other topics. These papers are available to read at no cost to readers on Aging-us.com. Open-access journals offer information that has the potential to benefit our societies from the inside out and may be shared with friends, neighbors, colleagues, and other researchers, far and wide.

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