The secret to a long and healthy life may be to simply delete the genes that cause aging, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Washington and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging joined together for a 10 year research project on aging, in which they discovered 238 genes that cells actually live longer without.
Their research was conducted on yeast cells, but the same technique could be applied to humans. “This study… gives us a more complete picture of what aging is,” said Dr. Brian Kennedy, the study’s lead author. "Almost half of the genes we found that affect aging are conserved in mammals. In theory, any of these factors could be therapeutic targets to extend healthspan.”
To figure out which genes affected aging, the scientists looked at 4,698 strains of yeast and simply deleted a gene in each one. In cases where the cells lived longer before they stopped dividing, the scientists knew they had found a gene that affected aging.
The most powerful result they found was deleting a gene called LOS1. With it out of the way, the cells lived 60% longer. LOS1 is linked to the genes that regulate cell growth and managing DNA damage. It has also been linked to calorie restriction and increased lifespan.
"It [the study]... sets up a framework to define the entire network that influences aging,” said Dr. Kennedy. “What we have to do now is figure out which ones [genes] are amenable to targeting.”