Anorak News | Daily Express readers live 20 year longer (and so do their mice)

Daily Express readers live 20 year longer (and so do their mice)

by | 11th, March 2012

IN “PILL TO EXTEND LIFE BY 20 YEARS”, the Daily Express has news of a life-extending “gene“. Given the title’s demographic, that pill might soon be administered free at the point to sale to all Express readers.

Lucy Johnston takes up the story:

A GENE that could hold the key to extending life by up to two decades has been identified.


Scientists hope the discovery will lead to the creation of a pill to help older people stay fitter, healthier and live longer – a breakthrough akin to finding “the fountain of youth”.


The gene is found in all mammals and is known to protect against age-related cell damage. Scientists manipulated the gene, SIRT6, in laboratory mice and found it extended their lifespan by up to 15 per cent.

Lab mice get to live longer.

According to results of a trial, published in the journal Nature, when researchers from Bar-Ilan University in Israel reduced or removed the gene, the mice developed diabetes, curvature of the spine and aged faster.
Mouse and human SIRT genes are 80 per cent identical.


Biologist Dr Haim Cohen, who led the study said: “This gene is important to health and if you can tinker with it to get the body to make more of it then we could get people living longer. We can’t inject the gene so we are looking for a pill that can turn on the gene. If we can do that, then we might have found the fountain of youth.”

That front-page story is based on an article in Nature published on 22 February 2012. The newspaper readers may live longer, but newspaper are dying. Thanks to the internet, you can look up that original story for free. As Nature reports:

Sirtuin genes and the proteins they encode have intrigued many researchers who study ageing ever since they were first linked to longevity in yeast. Results published today in Nature suggest that the overexpression of one gene, called sirtuin 6 (SIRT6), can lengthen lifespan in male mice by as much as 15.8%. Male mice with boosted levels of the sirtuin protein SIRT6 could live longer…

The results are interesting, and the magnitude of lifespan extension is impressive, says Richard Miller, who studies ageing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. But the work must be interpreted with care, he adds. “It’s a good bet that each of the sirtuins does something interesting,” says Miller. “But the case for whether any one of them is important to ageing and longevity in mammals is somewhat weak and circumstantial.”


And why does SIRT6 affect males and females differently? Cohen’s lab is trying to piece that together, but for now he can only offer speculation. He notes that in the strain of mice his team used, females live about 15% longer than males and that overexpression of SIRT6 simply allowed the males to catch up to the females.

Such are the facts…

Posted: 11th, March 2012 | In: Technology Comments (2) | TrackBack | Permalink