Scientists have found that cancer drug, Trametinib (Mekinist) which is used to treat melanoma could be used to extend human lifespan.

The drug which was developed by the London-based pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline, extends the lifespan of adult fruit flies by about 12%, although the later in life the drug is started, the less effect it has.”

This is according to Linda Partridge, who is leade researcher and geneticist at University College London and the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne, Germany.

She however cautioned against rushing to take trametinib in search of a longer life, saying "that would be mad, we just don't know enough about the long-term consequences"

Trametinib’s effects are connected to a biochemical pathway controlled by a family of proteins collectively called Ras which seem to be important to both cancer and ageing.

They are activated when cells need to grow and proliferate, for example to replace damaged tissue.

Inspite of the fact that the study has only been done on fruit flies for now, Partridge hopes to extend her Ras studies to mammalian cells grown in culture and to mice as "we don’t know in mammals at the moment what the situation is.”