The life span of nematodes has been prolonged by 500% with new genetic manipulations

A new cell pathway that amplifies the lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans, an approximately one-millimeter long nematode that usually lives in soil, has been identified by a team of researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California and the University of Nanjing, China.

Specifically, this new cell pathway can extend the life of this small worm, which usually lives up to 3-4 weeks, by five times: if the thing could be applied, for example, even to a human being, it could extend the life of the latter up to a duration of 400 or even 500 years.

Of course, we are very far from a possible application on humans due to the extreme complexity of our body and our genetic profile compared to that of a nematode, however thanks to the fact that this nematode shares with us many of its genes, the result is certainly worthy of note in the context of the fight against aging. Specifically, researchers have genetically altered the insulin signalling pathways (IIS) and the target of the rapamycin pathway (TOR), as well as other mitochondrial functions.

These are genetic manipulations that, at least on this worm, have led to an almost exponential effect, as Jianfeng Lan, a researcher who participated in the study, suggests: “The effect is not one plus one equal to two, it is one plus one equal to five. Our results show that nothing exists in nature in a vacuum; in order to develop the most effective anti-aging treatments we must look rather at the longevity networks of individual pathways.”

Now researchers want to understand more about the actual role of the mitochondria of aging probably also to understand if any genetic manipulation could have a similar effect on humans.

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