Long Life and Health
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Living To 150 Might Actually Be Achievable With Gene Therapy

How would you like to live to 150? Researchers have found a gene therapy that could expand the human lifespan to 150 or well-beyond. The technique involves “shutting off” a group of genes whose actions limit longevity.

Doctors and researchers who study longevity tend to agree that the maximum achievable human lifespan maxes out at about 150 years. But even reaching close to that maximum and retaining a level of vitality allowing you to enjoy all of those added years has remained elusive.

However, a group of researchers may have just found a way to not only extend the human lifespan to 150 or even beyond, but more importantly, how to keep you healthy and strong enough to make living that long worth it. It involves identifying a group of genes most responsible for extremely long life in other animals, such as fruit flies, and discovering how their powers could be extended to humans.

The genes in question play an essential role in building proteins in our cells. Co-lead author Dr. Nazif Alic from the Institute of Healthy Ageing at UCL says that shutting down the actions of genes such as these can affect longevity.

“We have already seen from extensive previous research that inhibiting certain genes – involved in making proteins in our cells – can extend lifespan in model organisms such as yeast, worms, and flies,” he says.

However, this is the first time scientists have demonstrated the same link in humans. The results emerged from a review of genetic data from previous studies involving 11,262 people who had lived an exceptionally long life to an age above the 90th percentile of their cohort.

They found that people with reduced activity of genes linked to two RNA polymerase enzymes were more likely to live very long lives. The researchers found evidence that the genes’ effects were linked to their expression in specific organs, including abdominal fat, liver, and skeletal muscle, but also that the effect on longevity was much broader, transcending direct associations with specific age-related diseases.

The challenge that remains is understanding exactly when and how to safely turn these genes off. The scientists noted that the genes in question serve an important role in fighting off disease and keeping us healthy during our growing years and into adulthood. It is only once we which middle-age that they start to cause problems associated with aging and shorter lifespans. In fact, they point out that from an evolutionary perspective, that is why these genes function the way they do because, for the survival of the species, it is advantages to keep the population strong and healthy in its “childbearing years” and to weed out the older members of the population who no longer can reproduce.

Still, the researchers say this is an important breakthrough since it is the first time that anyone has been able to establish the same “on/off” relationship of these genes to longevity in humans that has been previously only been demonstrated in animal models.

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