Could we live to 150? Scientists believe they have unlocked the key to extending our life spans by a whopping 60 per cent – and it’s within us all.
A fascinating study over ten years has identified 283 genes that, when “turned off”, dramatically increase the life-span of yeast cells.
Before you wonder what this study has to do with us, many of the genes present in yeast are also present in humans, and the researchers from the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing and the University of Washington were able to tweak the genes of more than 4500 “subjects”.
“This study looks at ageing in the context of the whole genome and gives us a more complete picture of what ageing is,” Dr Brian Kennedy, the lead author of the study, said, as reported in The Telegraph.
“Almost half of the genes we found that affect ageing are conserved in mammals.
“In theory, any of these factors could be therapeutic targets to extend health span. What we have to do now is figure out which ones are amenable to targeting,” said Dr Kennedy.
The researchers tinkered with the yeast strains and observed how long cells lived before they stopped dividing.
One gene, called LOS1, produced particularly impressive results, extending life by 60 per cent. LOS1 has perviously been linked to a “genetic master switch” that has been associated with calorie restriction through fasting and increased lifespan.
In that study, from the University of Southern California, a five-day diet designed to mimic fasting reduced biomarkers linked to ageing, diabetes, cancer and heart disease, as well as cutting overall body fat after three months.
Researchers believe fasting tricks the body into ageing more slowly by reducing a hormone that encourages growth and has been linked to cancer susceptibility.
Study continues into this area, and it raises the question – could humans one day live until the age 150?
What would people do differently if lifespans extended much further? What could you do with an extra fifty years or so?