Humankind has always strived for immortality though doing a heroic feat, writing a timeless poem, or making a life-changing discovery. Immortality has always belonged to the metaphysical world, where gods, wizards and monsters would live forever thanks to a spell or the elixir of life. But today, it’s closer to becoming a reality than ever – scientists claim of finding the fountain of youth in quite unexpected place.
Biologists at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) just announced they have discovered a gene, which can be used to slow aging. The gene, found in fruit flies, is called AMPK and can increase the flies’ lifespan by almost a third. According to the researchers, led by grad student Mathew Ulgherait, the key to longer, healthier life is the body’s ability to “flush out” cellular debris. Cellular debris is organic waste from dead tissue, basically everything left after a cell dies, and it’s linked to most age-related diseases. And when activated, this gene boosts the body’s ability to get rid of the cellular debris.
This, according to the study results, increases the fruit flies’ life by almost a third. Moreover, the fruit fly was healthier and in better overall condition until it eventually died. Certainly, we wouldn’t want to live as long as a fruit fly and to put it in more human terms – for your 75-year-old grandma, this means another 24 years. Can you imagine being surrounded by grey-haired, smiling centenarians in the grocery store, on the beach, or in the gym? In Dubai, in particular, it would be a great change.
According to David Walker, senior study author and associate professor at UCLA, we tend to treat diseases and conditions one by one. Most of them are related to older age – diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer, and so on. In fact, the major risk factor for all of them is getting older. So, by activating the AMPK gene, researchers can delay the onset of these conditions and slow down their progression. So, instead of getting diagnosed with 10 different diseases at the age of 60, we will be able to live healthier and more active lives. After all, it’s not so important how long you live; it’s the quality of life that matters the most.
This is the beginning of the anti-aging gene therapy, but it’s still too early to dream of living forever. However, sci