A 10-year research conducted by scientists at the University of Washington and Buck Institute for Research on Aging in the United States may have found a partial chunk of the so-called Fountain of Youth. The team has identified around 238 genes which, when removed, can extend lifespan by 60 percent.
The study was conducted on 4,698 yeast strains. The research team said the results can be replicated in humans after a series of tests conducted on roundworms. By counting yeast cells and monitoring the consequences that followed when a single gene is blocked or removed, the team was able to identify the number of 'daughter cells' that a 'mother cell' can produce before it stops dividing.
The team used small needles attached to several microscopes in the course of their study. Using the needles, the scientists detach a 'daughter cell' from the 'mother cell'. The team then monitors and counts the number of times the 'mother cell' divides.
One of the most notable genes is LOS1, a gene responsible for protein building. LOS1 is linked to the gene that regulates cell growth, mTOR. It is also linked to the gene that manages DNA damage, Gcn4 gene. Restricting calories can extend lifespan while proper response to DNA damage is crucial for aging. When LOS1 is deleted, the researchers found a big extension in the lifespan.
"This study looks at aging in the context of the whole genome and gives us a more complete picture of what aging is," said Buck Institute's president and CEO Brian Kennedy, the study's lead author. "It also sets up a framework to define the entire network that influences aging in this organism."
A huge chunk of life-extending genes the team identified were also present in roundworms. The appearance of these genes in roundworms supports the belief that they are also conserved in higher forms of organisms, including humans. The findings are useful in targeting genes that can extend or improve health span and even in slowing the aging pace of humans. The next step is to determine which genes can be targeted.
The researchers published their findings in the journal Cell Metabolism on Oct. 8.