Fruit Flies and the Fountain of Youth

January 30th, 2015

Fruit Flies and the Fountain of Youth

If someone told you they could increase your lifespan by 60-80 years you may not believe them at first, but you would certainly want to know how and get a taste of that magic. With the human lifespan increasing due to recent medical and technological advancements, it should come as no surprise that there is more potentially good news on the horizon. In fact, the fountain of youth may not be so far behind

A team of Swiss researchers has increased the lifespan for the fruit fly. This is a promising development because the fruit fly’s genetic makeup is similar to human beings. By triggering a gene that destroys unhealthy cells, the team expanded the month-long lifespan of the fruit fly by 50 to 60 percent. This is “a good strategy to maintain tissue health and therefore delay aging and prolong lifespan,” said Eduardo Moreno lead author a new study published in the science journal Cell.

The Washington Post reported that Moreno claimed, “If we could do the same to a human who may live 80 years, it would be like living to 160 years old.” The way the process works is that over time, human cells become damaged by various forces such as UV-light from the sun. Moreno and his team were able to isolate a gene that destroys damaged cells in order to sustain vital organs such as the brain. On average, there are two copies of the gene in each cell, one from the mother and one from the father. The scientists created a third copy and injected it into the cell to help the organism destroy unhealthy cells even faster.

Moreno believes that because similar genes are found in human cells, the same results could occur in human beings. He speculates that people who age well could have this mechanism working faster than is common. Manipulating the mechanism could delay the aging process by promoting the healthier cells.

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