Global Technology - January 2020

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What new technologies will dramatically transform your world?  We’ll present an exclusive preview of the stunning breakthroughs emerging from the world’s leading research labs. 

New research published in the journal Cell Reports has identified synergistic cellular pathways for longevity that amplify lifespan fivefold in C. elegans, a nematode worm used as a model in aging research.  C. elegans, is a popular model in aging research because it shares most of its genes with humans and because it is the short lifespan of only three to four weeks allows scientists to quickly assess the effects of genetic and environmental interventions to extend healthy lifespan.  The observed increase in lifespan would be the equivalent of humans living for 400 or 500 years, according to one of the scientists.

Two major pathways governing aging have been the subject of intensive research because they are also found in humans.  And a number of drugs that extend healthy lifespan by altering these pathways are now under development.  That means that the discovery of the synergistic relationships between the two pathways opens the door to even more effective anti-aging therapies.

The new research involved a double mutant of C. Elegans in which the insulin signaling and Target of Rapamycin pathways were genetically altered.  Alteration of the insulin signaling pathway has been found to yields a 100 percent increase in lifespan, while alteration of the Target of Rapamycin pathway has been found to yield a 30 percent increase; so, the double mutant was expected to live 130 percent longer normal C. Elegans.  But amazingly, its lifespan was amplified by 500 percent!

By helping to characterize these interactions, these researchers are paving the way for much-needed therapies to increase healthy lifespan for a rapidly aging human population.

The effect isn’t one plus one equals two, it’s one plus one equals five. The findings demonstrate that in order to develop the most effective anti-aging treatments researchers have to look at longevity networks rather than individual pathways.  The discovery of the synergistic interaction could lead to the use of combination therapies, each affecting a different pathway, to...

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