Newly Discovered Genes May be Linked to Longevity and Health

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 - 12:24

After searching through 40,000 genes, researchers at ETH Zurich and the JenAge consortium from Jena have uncovered 30 that may lead to a longer, healthier life.

According to ISCA report, the scientists measured the amount of messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules found in the cells of animals such as zebra fish, and mice and the nematode C. elegans. They searched through 40,000 genes in order to find genes associated with aging and found orthologous genes that are closely related to each other. The three organisms were shown to have only 30 genes in common that significantly influence the ageing process.

“We looked only for the genes that are conserved in evolution and therefore exist in all organisms, including humans,” said Ristow, “however we cannot measure the life expectancy of humans for obvious reasons.”

Focusing on C. elegans, the researchers measured the accumulation of ageing pigments, the organism's speed at which the creatures moved, and how often the nematodes successfully reproduced in order to measure the life. All of these parameters improved when the scientists inhibited the activity of one of the genes, the bcat-1 gene. “When we blocked the effect of this gene, it significantly extended the mean lifespan of the nematode by up to 25 percent,” says Ristow.

The findings indicate that how the aging process could be influenced and how age-related diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure could be prevented.

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