JUPITER, FL, May 21, 2014 Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been awarded a $2 million grant from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health to study the effects of early nutrition on lifespan and overall health.
William Ja, a TSRI assistant professor, is the principal investigator for the five-year study.
During critical periods of growth and development, particularly during early stages of life, animals are highly sensitive to nutritionor lack of itand modify their metabolism accordingly. This "nutritional-priming" phenomenon causes physiological changes that can persist throughout life and can have a marked impact on life-long health.
In humans, imbalanced nutrition during early childhood greatly influences future health and development, and poor diets during early growth periods can increase the likelihood of developing obesity, diabetes and heart disease in later life.
"This study will provide new strategies to develop drug candidates that could reverse the effects of a poor early dietand that have the potential to improve human healthspan," Ja said.
In addition, he noted, the cellular mechanisms underlying the effects of early diet on metabolism and aging have been largely unexplored. Unraveling those fundamental mechanisms are a primary aim of the new study.
Because multiyear, longitudinal studiesresearch done on a single group of individuals over an extended period of timecan be costly and difficult, Ja and his colleagues will first tackle the problem using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, a reliable and commonly used model, to investigate the role of early nutrition on lifespan and overall health.
"How poor nutrition affects aging is difficult to test in humans," said Kimberley Bruce, a postdoctoral associate in the Ja laboratory who will spearhead the study. "But fruit flies live 80 days rather
|Contact: Eric Sauter|
Scripps Research Institute