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2013-05-07 08:33:38 - Dorian Gray gene could add decades to life
A “Dorian Gray” gene that apparently delays the onset of ageing has been identified by scientists.
By Alice Philipson and agencies9:23AM BST 06 May 2013
American researchers found that the gene, which has previously been implicated in Parkinson’s Disease, extended the healthy lifespan of fruit flies by more than 25 per cent.
They said that the research could have important implications for ageing and disease in humans.
The gene, called parkin, serves at least two functions: marking damaged proteins so that cells can discard them before they become toxic and removing damaged mitochondria from cells.
David Walker, an associate professor of integrative biology and physiology at University of California, Los Angeles, said: “Ageing is a major risk factor for the development and progression of many neurodegenerative diseases. We think that our findings shed light on the molecular mechanisms that connect these processes.”
In the research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr Walker and his colleagues demonstrated how parkin modulated the ageing process in fruit flies, which typically live less than two months. The researchers increased parkin levels in the cells of the flies and found that this extended their lifespan by more than 25 per cent, compared with a control group.
Dr Walker added: “In the control group, the flies are all dead by Day 50. In the group with parkin overexpressed, almost half of the population is still alive after 50 days. We have manipulated only one of their roughly 15,000 genes, and yet the consequences for the organism are profound.”
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