Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Forget healthy eating, exercise. 'Mutant genes' key to long life

Genes. The key to long life could be that simple. It's not time to throw out your vitamins, running shoes and whole wheat pasta, though.

A study by the Albert Einstein College of medicine finds Ashkenazi Jews that live to be at least 100 have a gene mutation that creates "a hyperactive version of an enzyme that prevents cells from aging." (
BBC) The enzyme keeps telomeres in shape. What are telomeres? They're the caps at the end of DNA strands that keep them in shape. Another way to think of it, telomeres "have been compared to the plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces that prevent the laces from unraveling."

The problem is, each time a cell divides, telomeres tend to get smaller. That is, unless, you have the benefit of a mutant gene that programs your body to create an enzyme that keeps them long and healthy.

So what? If you're not lucky enough to born a mutant, what do you care? Well, "they say it may be possible to produce drugs that stimulate the enzyme."

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.