A pioneering study has concluded that we could extend our lives by as much as 60 per cent if certain genes are “deleted.” Scientists discovered more than 200 such genes that if “tweaked” to become inactive could hold the secret to extending life by decades.
The study found that this could extend life in some organisms by as much as 60 per cent. This would take the average life expectancy for men and women in the UK from 81 to 149.
Experts at America’s Buck Institute for Research on Ageing and the University of Washington spent a decade identifying some 238 genes which if “silenced” increased the lifespan of yeast cells.
Many of the same genes are also present in mammals, including humans, suggesting that switching them off could dramatically increase lifespan.
Dr Brian Kennedy, lead author of the study, said: “This study gives us a more complete picture of what ageing is. Almost half of the genes we found that affect ageing are conserved in mammals.”
He added: “In theory, any of these factors could be therapeutic targets to extend healthspan. What we have to do now is figure out which ones are amenable to targeting.”
Dr Mark McCormick of the Buck Institute said the results of neutralising some of the identifiable ageing genes were dramatic.
He continued: “Our best results were single gene deletions that increased lifespan by around 60 per cent compared to normal yeast.”
To determine which genes were responsible for ageing, scientists examined 4,698 strains of yeast. Deleting a single gene from each they then monitored how long cells lived for before they stopped dividing.