The gene for the long life

The worm C. Elegans once again revealed a secret, namely how the aging could be pushed out considerably by switching off a single gene

US scientists believe a step further on the way to explore the longevity. You could have a set of genes at the threadworm C. Identify elegans that have an influence on the lifelong. Above all, it is interesting that a single gene can control many others. This lies with at least the C. Elegants double the life.

The threadworm Caenorhabditis elegans was not only the first multiple cell whose genom was completely sequenced in 1998 (the first multi cells genetically recorded), he is also one of the parade organisms for age research. The a millimeter long threadworm has with his 19.000 genes a not much smaller genome than that of people (not much more than the worm C. Elegans), with whom he has many together. However, his lifetime is normally limited to three weeks, which facilitates the production of mutations by switching on and on of genes and their impact.

In 1999, it was already shown that a C. Elegans variant by a catalase for up to four times long lived as their normal species. The enzyme, which is usually produced normally only in the larval stage in food shortage, protects the cells from oxidative processes and slows down the aging process of the cell (a worm on the way to immortality). A year later, scientists could show that with the feeding of these enzymes, the worm lived up to 50 percent more long (a pill for the deflection of life). The Team of Cythia Kenyon’s Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry of the University of California in San Francisco had already found that hormones, in the case of insulin and IGF-I influence the aging process. The system is controlled by charms from the environment and the reproduction system. Corresponding genomic mutations could also have the life for half of them. Similar consequences love are also watching for fruit flies and mice.

On this basis, the Team of the University of California and other universities reported, as reported in a preliminary publication of Nature, due to genetic changes that depend on a single gene identifying the aging processes with the aging processes using the microarray technique. If the DAF-2 gene is blocked, the DAF-16 gene, which regulates gene expression, can control numerous other genes, which are mainly responsible for processes, to evaporate the bacteria and make free radicals blurry, but also the activity of Inhibit genes that act life-rayingly. With the gradual turning off of genes in normal and DAF 2 mutants, the effects of the individual genes love the aging process. Except for the DAF 2 gene, none of the other genes can affect the life alone, even if they have a share of it. Only if the DAF 2 gene, which is also state-of-the-lipid metabolism, is turned off, all genes act together in a cascade and can produce longevity.

Mainly two gene groups seem to play a crucial role in changing the lifetime. On the one hand, these are the genes encoding antioxidant proteins with which free radicals are bound, and those responsible for Chaperone repairing or destroying the damaged proteins. Both processes are made responsible for numerous aging processes and diseases. The other group consists of genes encoding antibacterial proteins. Presumably infections in the Wurmers are a major reason for death. Even in people, infections with increasing age are a growing problem.

How far these results are transferable to humans and may also be able to produce a higher life expectancy through gene change is currently not answerable. But behind the age research stuck but rough yearning light and a lot of money. Whoever found the pill for long life, had certainly found a killer application, even if a deflection of the lifespan everything else than unproblematic goods (anti-aging). Cynthia Kenyon, which has ever occurred in transhumanist conferences (the extropians met again to the Extro 4), is optimistic about the discovery of how two genes can be a whole cascade of numerous other genes that drove to longevity: "If we find out a possibility to copy these effects in humans, we could all drove a long and healthy life." At least those who can afford.

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