Single gene modification lengthen fruit flies lifespan by up to 60%

Scientists may have hit upon a new way of extending the lifespan of living organisms – by activating a gene that destroys unhealthy cells.

Researchers at the University of Bern found they were able to help flies live up to 60% longer by increasing the activity of a gene that targets damaged cells.

If this could be transferred to humans, it could extend the average lifespan of people in developed countries like the US and the UK to beyond 120 years old

* Swiss researchers gave fruit flies an extra copy of a gene known as ‘azot’
* It is thought to kill cells that malfunction to help keep tissues healthy
* Tissue from flies with the extra gene grew slower, and was healthier
* The flies also lived between 50 to 60 per cent longer than normal insects
* Humans also carry the azot gene and the researchers from the University of Bern hope it could be used to develop new anti-aging treatments

Normally, there are two copies of this gene in a cell. By pasted a third copy, the scientists were able to sort out the healthier cells and nerve cells more efficiently. The result of these cellular “quality control”, according to Moreno was “very exciting”: The treated flies showed a healthier tissue, aging more slowly and have a longer life. “Our flies lived an average of 50 to 60 percent longer than their other counterparts,” says Christa Rhiner, co-author of the study.

Azot could also slow human aging?

However, the potential of these results goes beyond the creation of Methuselah flies, the researchers say, because the azote gene is also present in the human body, the selection of healthier, Fitterer cells in the organs could in the future serve as a mechanism to slow the aging. For example, in order to counteract the increasing throughout life degeneration of tissue and nerve cells in our bodies.

Nextbigfuture covered the research paper a few days ago

Merino MM, Rhiner C, Lopez-Gay JM, D Buechel, Hauert B and E. Moreno elimination of unfit cells Maintains tissue health and Prolongs life span. Cell, 2015 (in press) DOI: 10.1016 / j.cell.2014.12.017.