Biologists have created bakers yeast capable of living to 800 in yeast years without apparent side effects.
The basic but important discovery, achieved through a combination of dietary and genetic changes, brings science closer to controlling the survival and health of the unit of all living systems: the cell.
Were setting the foundation for reprogramming healthy life, said study leader Valter Longo of the University of Southern California.
The study is scheduled to appear in the Jan. 25 issue of the journal PLOS Genetics. A companion study, showing that the same genetic changes in yeast reverse the course of an accelerated aging syndrome, appears in the Jan. 14 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology.
Longos group put bakers yeast on a calorie-restricted diet and knocked out two genes, RAS2 and SCH9, that promote aging in yeast and cancer in humans.
We got a 10-fold life span extension that is, I think, the longest one that has ever been achieved in any organism, Longo said. In 2005, the same research group reported a five-fold life span extension in the journal Cell. Normal yeast organisms live about a week.
I would say 10-fold is pretty significant, said Anna McCormick, chief of the genetics and cell biology branch at the National Institute on Aging and Longos program officer.
The NIA funds such research in the hope of extending healthy life span in humans through the development of drugs that mimic the life-prolonging techniques used by Longo and others, McCormick added.
Bakers yeast is one of the most studied and best understood organisms at the molecular and genetic level. Remarkably in light of its simplicity, yeast has led to the discovery of some of the most important genes and pathways regulating aging and disease in mice and other mammals.
A study recently published in Cell (Issue 130, pages 247-258, 2007) reported
that a mouse with a gene mutation first
|Contact: Carl Marziali|
University of Southern California