A new study by researchers from Concordia University and the biotechnology company Idunn Technologies in Canada may have discovered a key step in the quest to slow the aging process: plant extracts that contain the six best groups of anti-aging molecules that have been explored to date.

The research team made use of the biological library available through Idunn Technologies, conducting more than 10,000 trials in order to screen for plant extracts that would increase the lifespan of, interestingly, yeast. Because the aging process is similar in both yeast and humans, yeast is an ideal cellular model for understanding how the anti-aging process could unfold.

In turn, this could also have important implications for the prevention of certain diseases associated with aging-including cancer.

"In total, we found six new groups of molecules that decelerate the chronological aging of yeast," said Vladimir Titorenko, senior author of the new study recently published in Oncotarget and professor in Concordia University's Department of Biology. He worked on the research with a group of Concordia graduate students and Éric Simard, the founder of Idunn Technologies.

"These results also provide new insights into mechanisms through which chemicals extracted from certain plants can slow biological aging," Titorenko outlined.

Éric Simard explained, "Rather than focus on curing the individual disease, interventions on the molecular processes of aging can simultaneously delay the onset and progression of most age-related disorders. This kind of intervention is predicted to have a much larger effect on healthy aging and life expectancy than can be attained by treating individual diseases."

One of the groups of molecules under investigation is a certain extract of willow bark, which, according to the study, can increase the average chronological lifespan of yeast by 475 percent and its maximum lifespan by 369 percent. This would signify a far greater anti-aging impact than rapamycin and metformin, the two best-known drugs marketed for their anti-aging effects.

"These six [plant] extracts have been recognized as non-toxic by Health Canada, and already exhibit recognized health benefits in humans," Simard noted. Predictably, he also mentioned that these new molecules would soon be made available as commercial products, "but first, more research must be done."

In the next steps of the experimentation process, Simard's company will collaborate with four other universities for six separate research programs, "to go beyond yeast, and work with an animal model of aging, as well as two cancer models," he explained.