Worms Hold a Clue to Longer Life

March 25, 2008 10:26 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Researchers have found that adjusting insulin levels in worms extends their life spans. The research could lead to humans living longer.

30-Second Summary

Scientists at Harvard Medical School’s Joslin Diabetes Center said that the worms whose insulin levels were lowered lived 50 percent longer than normal. Their life spans increased from two weeks to three.

The studies have only been done on worms, which are surprisingly similar on a genetic level to humans, but researchers are hopeful that the data could mean something positive for people.

"It doesn't sound like much for a worm, but those percentages would be a lot for us," said study co-author Dr. T. Keith Blackwell.

Blackwell and his colleagues are not the first to investigate worm life spans.

In May 2007, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies reported that they had identified a gene in roundworms that makes them live longer when they eat less.

The positive results in that instance were also linked to insulin production.

Researchers hope the findings mean that it may soon be possible to create a human life-extending drug, one that may mimic the results reported, but not yet scientifically confirmed, to come from a reduced-calorie diet.

Some optimistic researchers believe that human life could be extended far beyond current expectations.

Cambridge University researcher Dr. Aubrey de Grey believes in a process known as Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS). He holds it that there are seven components to aging. If each of the seven factors is handled correctly, the aging process stops.

Headline Link: ‘Tweaking Insulin Might Help Fight Aging’

Opinion & Analysis: Is living longer better?

Background: Longevity in worms and people

Related Topics: Chasing immortality

Reference: Restricted-calorie diets only one strategy in quest for longer life


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