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Scientists find elixir of eternal life - in a worm (Hair Loss Supplements)

posted by HanginInThere, 04.05.2007, 04:11

oK Pete has no opinion on resveratrol, but since this is supposedly a life extension post why not take that also?
» Scientists find elixir of eternal life - in a worm
» By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
» Last Updated: 2:15am BST 04/05/2007
» The seemingly far-fetched day when all of us could extend our life spans
» by up to 30 years simply by taking a pill has moved a step closer, with
» the discovery of a "longevity gene" in the humble worm.
» Scientists have discovered the key to longevity in the humble worm
» Scientists found a gene in a worm that links eating less with longer life
» Scientists have long known that a 60 per cent reduction in calorie intake,
» while maintaining a healthy diet of vitamins, minerals, and other
» nutrients, consistently prolongs life by up to 40 per cent.
» That regime also reduces the risk of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular
» disease, while staving off age-related degeneration of the brain and
» nervous system.
» However, the reduction in calories required is so drastic that many
» scientists joke that it only feels like you are living longer.
» But researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla,
» California, have identified a critical gene in nematode worms that
» specifically links eating fewer calories to living longer.
» advertisement
» The researchers think the gene provides a crucial clue as to why
» persistent hunger promotes long life.
» Identifying this "longevity pathway" opens the door to the development of
» drugs that would mimic the effects of calorie restriction and might allow
» people to reap the benefits without adhering to an austere regime that
» only the toughest ascetics can endure.
» In a paper published today in Nature, Professor Andrew Dillin and
» colleagues show that one of the worms' genes, pha-4, has a function
» associated with living longer.
» The gene works by regulating the "sweet spot" of food consumption between
» the extremes of harm caused by starvation and overeating.
» "After 72 years of not knowing how calorie restriction works, we finally
» have genetic evidence to unravel the underlying program required for
» increased longevity," said Prof Dillin. "This is the first gene that is
» absolutely essential and specific for the increased longevity response to
» dietary restriction."
» Longevity was enhanced when researchers made more pha-4 genes within the
» worms, suggesting that this could offer a target for life extension
» drugs.
» Detailed work showed that the gene can boost levels of proteins called
» SODs (superoxide dismutase) which mop up free radicals, harmful chemicals
» linked with ageing.
» The researchers think that this may be a defence mechanism that helps the
» creatures tolerate starvation.
» Humans possess three genes that are "highly similar" to the worm pha-4,
» all belonging to the Foxa family.
» All three play an important role in our early development, and then later
» on in life with the regulation of glucagon, a hormone made by the pancreas
» that increases the concentration of blood sugar and maintains the body's
» energy balance, especially during fasting. When food is in short supply,
» these genes may alter glucagon levels or cause other changes in hormones
» that are ultimately able to regulate the ageing process.
» The team is now going to study these human genes to see if they react the
» same way as those in nematodes do when the worms are denied their
» favourite treat, bacteria.
» Prof Dillin said that they would also test a range of drugs to see if they
» can find some that boost the activity of the human equivalent of the worm
» gene and, in theory, boost longevity.
» So far, only one other gene, called sir-2, has been implicated in the
» life- and health-prolonging response of the body to calorie restriction.
» Increased use of the gene extends longevity of yeast, worms, and flies.
» However, the link is not so clean cut because the loss of sir-2 disrupts
» the calorie restriction response only in some strains of yeast and has no
» effect on other organisms, such as worms.

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