Recently, scientists from the MDI Biological Laboratory, Buck Institute for Aging Research, and Nanjing University shocked the medical world by announcing that they were able to extend the life span of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans by 500%. C. elegans worms are often used in research on aging. Despite the fact that they are biologically far from humans, these organisms share many genetic pathways with humans. As scientists write in their work, nature does not waste the basic mechanisms of cell protection. Instead, similar biological pathways are found again and again in many organisms, and some of them develop in more highly developed and complex animals. The study is published in the journal Cell Reports.
How are worms and humans connected?
Caenorhabditis elegans worms live only 2-3 weeks, and their body is arranged to disgrace simply. It is these qualities that make them ideal experimental subjects for conducting various kinds of genetic research, especially in the field of aging. The fact is that you can see the result in C.elegans worms right away. One way or another, this work is yet another evidence that aging is the combined work of several genetic programs. Today, researchers agree that there is no single “longevity gene”, as aging is the result of gene work over time.
Increasing the life expectancy of nematode worms, however, does not mean that you and I will live 400 years. At the same time, the work is overwhelming in itself. As the researchers write, nothing in nature exists in a vacuum. In order to develop the most effective anti-aging treatment methods, it is necessary to pay attention to the “longevity network”, and not to separate paths. The fact is that the main problems associated with aging are the development of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, etc. These diseases today can be prevented or significantly improve the health status of patients through genetic manipulation and various medicines.
According to the Forbes publication, according to the authors of the study, scientists are approaching the moment when they can understand exactly what actions or medications are the most effective ways to combat age-related changes.
In fact, an increase in the lifespan of worms is a reaction to severe mitochondrial stress. The cause of stress was the intervention of researchers in the body of C. elegans. Surely it’s impossible to say whether such an intervention will be effective for the body of Homo Sapiens today. One way or another, research to combat age-related changes can help us live longer, but more importantly, they can help us live better. So even if we can’t live hundreds of years, knowing how to deal with age-related diseases and changes can make our lives much better.