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Tuesday, 19 June 2007
Wonderworms “Hold the Key to Long Life”

5/3/2007

The Daily Mail (London, England)

THE earthworm could hold the key to a long and healthy life for humans, scientists say.

They have pinpointed a gene which allows worms to live longer - when they are close to starvation.

The experts say that If a drug which kickstarts a similar gene in humans was developed, it could increase lifespan and ward off heart problems, cancer and dementia.

Researcher Dr Andrew Dillin said: 'The goal is to reduce the onset of these age-related diseases.' The study follows a host of others showing animals on low-calorie diets tend to live longer, healthier lives.

The latest research, from California's Salk Institute for Biology, has identified a gene that plays a key role in this process.

Without it, worms did not live longer when their food was cut. But if the gene was made to work hard, they lived longer.

Researcher Hugo Aguilaniu said: 'What is most interesting is that diet-restricted animals are more dynamic. We are not just talking about lifespan but about "health-span expansion" - being healthier over a long period of time.' It is thought that when calories are low, the gene protects against the damage associated with ageing.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, pave the way for a pill that kickstarts similar genes known to exist in humans. Doing so could allow a healthy, long life - without the inconvenience of cutting calories, the scientists said.

 
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