Over at the Longevity Meme, I recently noted research on resveratrol - a compound that may trigger some of the same biochemical processes as calorie restriction - and extension of healthy life span in a species of short-lived fish, Nothobranchius furzeri:
Recently, a small fish species with a captive lifespan of only three months was described by Cellerino and colleagues. In the new work, the researchers used this short-lived fish to test the effects of resveratrol on aging-related physiological decay. The researchers added resveratrol to daily fish food and found that this treatment increased longevity and also retarded the onset of aging-related decays in memory and muscular performance ... Of course, there's always the possibility that they failed to control for actual calorie restriction - that happens a lot.
Regular readers already know I'm not big on the future of chemicals in pills and metabolic tinkering - they do not seem likely to get us anywhere near far enough in healthy life extension, as they don't touch on fixing age-related cellular damage. I found this most interesting for demonstrating that life span studies can be carried out in this species, at a fraction of the cost and time of comparative studies in mice. Fish are not mammals, of course, but they are a big step up from fruit flies in terms of the relevance of the science.
You might recall there was some talk of setting up a smaller research prize as a companion to the MPrize for anti-aging research in mice back in 2004. The prize could be smaller and still get results because it would be awarded for progress through less costly studies on short-lived creatures, such as, say, a Methuselah Fly Prize. A number of other species were suggested, Nothobranchius furzeri being one of them. Sadly, this all failed to go any further than the discussion stage, but one can hope that the discussion will be reopened as demonstrations like this study start to roll in.