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Genes key to human longevity identified

PTI
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Imagine taking a drug that can reduce the rate at which you age.

A new study provides evidence that ageing works through a special set of genes that everyone has — the rDNA genes.

The international team led by Dr Takehiko Kobayashi found that by improving the stability of the rDNA genes, which are usually quite unstable, they could extend the lifespan of baker’s yeast, a model system for studying cell ageing.

“This work is exciting because it shows that rDNA instability is a new factor in ageing,” said geneticist Dr Austen Ganley.

Kobayashi originally proposed a role for rDNA instability in ageing five years ago, but unequivocal support for this theory has been lacking until now.

These new results suggest that finding a way to artificially improve rDNA gene stability may delay the ageing process in humans too.

More testing needed

However, Ganley cautions that the role of the rDNA genes in human ageing still needs to be clarified.

“Although we know human rDNA genes are unstable, we don’t know if this instability affects lifespan. Finding this out is the next critical step, and the challenge lies in doing these experiments with human cells, which are more difficult to work with than yeast,” said Ganley.PTI


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