Posted on Dec 22, 2018, 2 a.m.
Those that are young and fertile may soon get to decide whether they want to live into their hundreds by taking a drug that will extend your life by a few decades, as published in Nature.
Stanford Medical School researchers have discovered blocking activity of certain genes extends the lives of roundworms by up to 30%, BUT only if the worms are fertile; further confirming what many scientists have suspected that the key to life extension is tied to the reproductive system.
To some it may make sense that the reproductive system would be involved in lifespan since it really is the only immortal part of an organism, in that context the body is just the mortal envelope, explains geneticist Anne Brunet.
The team discovered roundworms lived longer when actions of several different genes were blocked, most notably the gene Ash-2 that regulates how other genes get expressed as kind of a master switch gene. When Ash-2 is blocked several genes related to the germline used by cells for reproduction remain silent as well, and this somehow extends life.
Brunet goes on to explain that although they don’t know how the mechanisms work they have shown the presence of the germline is essential for the longevity extension to happen. Meaning as long as you remain fertile with a functioning germline shutting down Ash-2 may help you to live longer. At least if you are a worm, but there is enough overlap between worm and human DNA that these findings may provide a pathway to extending human lifespans as well.