• Scientists are decoding the genetic mechanisms of aging

    The paper, “Dietary Restriction Induces Post-transcriptional Regulation of Longevity Genes,” which was recently published in the journal Life Science Alliance, is the product of five years of research in the Rollins and Rogers laboratories at the MDI Biological Laboratory.

    The scientists used bioinformatics, or data analysis, techniques to compare genes in worms fed normal diets with those whose diets were restricted. Dietary restriction, or DR, which refers to calorie restriction without malnutrition, is the most robust intervention known for extending lifespan, and has been demonstrated to increase lifespan and delay the onset of age-related degenerative disease in a wide range of species, from one-celled yeasts to primates.

    The scientific evidence on the lifespan-prolonging effects of DR has ignited a quest to develop “DR mimetics,” or drugs that mimic the effects of DR without the need to dramatically reduce calories. In addition to being difficult to adhere to, such a diet is associated with negative side effects including increased sensitivity to cold and loss of energy and libido. The identification of these new mechanisms opens up the possibility of developing new, more precise DR mimetics.

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