A team of University of Michigan scientists has found that suppressing a newly discovered gene lengthens the lifespan of nematode worms. The goal of the scientific group is to identify ways to mimic the possitive effects of dietary restriction on lifespan of model animals. The idea is to find specific genes, alter their activity using drugs, and improve health and extend life as the result.
So this time researchers looked at the components of the TOR pathway. It is one of the major metabolic pathways in the cell, because it sences the nutrients and is responsible for cell growth, proliferation, survival, protein synthesis and transcription. There is quite a lot of scientific evidence that it is good thing for an organism to suppress this pathway. In this case model animals live longer.
“We showed that in C. elegans, drr-2 is one of the essential genes for the TOR pathway to modulate lifespan,” says Ao-Lin Allen Hsu, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and a scientist at the U-M Geriatrics Center. The analogous human gene is eIF4H that controls similar cell functions. This makes the drr-2 gene a good target for potencial drug therapy. The next step would be to identify its suppressors.