Anti-ageing gene that extends lifespan in mice

Researchers have identified an anti-ageing protein that can extend life span of mice by 16 per cent, a finding they say also offers hope for humans.

A team at the Bar-Ilan University in Israel found that the protein called sirtuin helped male mince live about 16 per cent longer than average, the first such advance for mammals in a field that has so far offered the blessings of extended life span only to yeast, nematodes and fruit flies.

Although the scientists, who detailed their findings in the journal Nature, cannot explain why female mice didn’t also live longer like the males, their research has been hailed as remarkable that has brought the anti-ageing research to a new level of maturity, LiveScience reported.

Mammals, including humans, have seven types of sirtuins, called SIRT1 to SIRT7. Scientists are not sure what these proteins do, although there is some evidence suggesting that they might help prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Sirtuin was first came to news in 1999, when researchers found that a certain sirtuin called Sir2 could extend life span in yeast by 30 percent. Studies that followed on worms and flies have had mixed results, and some researchers have started to question whether sirtuins could control life span in more complicated life forms.

The Israeli researchers, led by Yariv Kanfi, now focused on SIRT6. The team had previously found that mice genetically bred to have lots of SIRT6 could get fat on rich diets yet show no signs of heart disease, fatty liver disease and other diseases associated with obesity.

So, they simply let the SIRT6 enhanced mice to live a natural life and found that male mice lived longer, about 16 per cent longer on average, than regular mice kept in the same conditions. But, the female mice with the SIRT6 gene didn’t live longer than regular mice.

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