A research group at Southwest Research Institute was interested in testing whether α-linoleic acid (ALA) had effects on aging based upon their experiments showing that (1) the treatment of animals with ALA protected neurons against damage from neurotoxic agents, and (2) prior work showing that ALA reduced inflammation and increased mitochondrial activity.
They had contacted other groups about conducting studies in mice, but their lack of preliminary data was a barrier to either encouraging others to commit time and money to pursue these studies or to obtaining subsequent funding to begin the studies on their own. They contacted Dr. Randy Strong for help with their research, and he suggested working with the newly formed Bioanalytical Pharmacology and Drug Evaluation Core to pursue the studies in C. elegans and he connected them with Dr. Alfred Fisher.
The Pharmacology core was able to test α-linoleic acid samples from this group and show that they did increase worm lifespan by almost 50%. Dr. Fisher has also been able to work with the investigators to identify candidate mechanisms, such as enhancing energy production or activating specific transcription factors, which are currently being tested in transgenic worms. As a result of working with the core, the group is now planning aims for a grant proposal to conduct further experiments.