Researchers from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and colleagues have discovered the anti-aging effects of two compounds. One is naturally occurring and found in red grapes and red wine, while the other is a drug commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes. The former, known as resveratrol, has been previously regarded for its health benefits and has even been called “an elixir of youth.” The latter, a drug called metformin, has also been researched for its anti-cancer effects.

“We all slow down as we get older,” said researcher Gregorio Valdez in a press release. “Gait, balance issues, and impaired motor coordination contribute to health problems, accidents, lack of mobility, and a lower quality of life. We work on identifying molecular changes that slow down motor deficits that occur with aging. I believe that we are getting closer to tapping into mechanisms to slow age-induced degeneration of neuronal circuits.”

The team found that resveratrol can preserve muscle fibers and protect synapses from aging’s crippling effects. To reach this conclusion, they conducted a study of two-year-old mice treated with resveratrol for a year (two years is generally considered “old” for mice). The team paid particular attention to how resveratrol affected synapses called neuromuscular junctions. These are crucial for voluntary movement, relaying motor commands from spinal cord neurons to muscles. The team published their study today in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.