Biology

Worm lifespans extended 500 percent in surprising new aging study

Worm lifespans extended 500 pe...
The worm species C. elegans  was found to pass down learned behaviors through four generations
The worm species C. elegans is often used in aging studies
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The worm species C. elegans  was found to pass down learned behaviors through four generations
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The worm species C. elegans is often used in aging studies

Aging is a subject that everyone has a stake in, and finding ways to slow it down would help reduce all kinds of diseases. Now scientists have made a pretty substantial breakthrough, extending the lifespan of worms by a staggering 500 percent by tweaking a couple of cellular pathways.

C. elegans is a humble little worm that often finds itself at the heart of aging studies. That’s because it shares many cellular pathways with humans, and it typically lives for three or four weeks, meaning any changes to that lifespan are quickly apparent and easy to measure.

In plenty of past studies, scientists have managed to use drugs or genetic engineering to increase the lifespan of C. elegans by 50 or 100 percent. If directly applied to the average human lifespan of about 80 years, that would be like living to between 120 and 160 years. But in the new study, the team unexpectedly made the worms live five times longer than usual – the human equivalent of which would be 400 years.

The researchers engineered worms with two pathways altered – the insulin signaling (IIS) and TOR pathways. Past studies have shown that altering the IIS pathway increases lifespan by 100 percent, while altering the TOR pathway yields a 30 percent boost. Basic math says that together the two mutations should result in a 130-percent increase. And yet that was clearly not the case, surprising the scientists working on the study.

“The synergistic extension is really wild,” says Jarod Rollins, lead author of the study. “The effect isn’t one plus one equals two, it’s one plus one equals five. Our findings demonstrate that nothing in nature exists in a vacuum; in order to develop the most effective anti-aging treatments we have to look at longevity networks rather than individual pathways.”

The team says that this finding may help explain why nobody has found a single specific gene that bestows a longer life in humans. There may be many different combinations that help different people stay healthier for longer.

Of course, it’s far from a guarantee that this will translate to humans, but it should give scientists a new avenue to explore in developing anti-aging techniques.

The research was published in the journal Cell Reports.

Source: MDI Biological Laboratory

8 comments
rederje
We already have increased our lifespan by a factor 5 with respect to dogs with the same weight as us !!!
For this reason this method for worms will be quite less efficient on us !!
Nevertheless stress, inflammation and insulin response can change our lifespan ans thus not too stress and not be obese.increase our lifespan.
guzmanchinky
I hope this works, I'd really love to get to 200.
Worzel
This will horrify governments, that are struggling to increase the age for state pensions, by just a couple of years. However, they will then think, ''OOH Luverly, another hundred years of collecting income tax!''
dad
scientists are about to learn, reciprosity,,,wow what a concept.
Sentch
Hmm, likely if (or when) they have a pill that does this it'll be super expensive and out of the reach of all but the top 1%
Robert Schreib
??? Are these 'cure for aging' researchers ALL TALKING TO EACH OTHER, or are they working for competing pharm corps? I think I read four or five anti-aging research breakthroughs on the New Atlas website within the last year or so. Maybe if they pooled their collective research lines, they could integrate all of their accumulated research papers, by hiring IBM to use their 'Watson' supercomputer networking, which is able to process pretty much all of the databanks in the world now, so that we could all take magic elixir vitae pills, to enable us to live fore centuries already! (BUT, our planet Earth has nearly 7.9 billions human souls on it now, we apparently are destroying the whole world's ecosystem ((GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL!!!)), and we are NOT taking care of millions of refugees, and the biggest business is making war-related, SO, if our world population started to grow even more so, because old people AIN'T dying no more, to make room for the next generation, maybe a cheap, life-prolonging drug, would condemn us all to a final dooms day war between the young, and the old and older, when we start fighting over our world's FINITE resources!
alexD
How about the overall health of the worms ? Did the entire organism aged so slowly that the senescence symptoms started at the 4 th month or so ?
Nobody
Reminds me of an old Star Trek TV show where an overpopulated planet wanted to introduce disease and a shorter lifespan to ease the over crowding. All you Trekkies probably remember the show and the title.