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A fountain of youth drug could be on the horizon after the discovery of a brain protein that extends lifespan, a new study suggests.
Scientists say the protein, known as REST, slows the aging process by suppressing over-activity of neurons in the brain.
Studies - Brain - Activity - Memory - Attention
Past studies have linked excessive brain activity to memory and attention problems and disorders including dementia and epilepsy.
A study of the brains of people who had died between ages 60 and older than 100 found that individuals who were younger when they died had lower levels of REST.
Experiments - Mice - Worms - Activity - Deaths
Experiments then conducted in mice and worms found that blocking it led to higher neural activity and earlier deaths, but boosting it had the opposite effect.
The team, from Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says a drug that targets REST could be the secret to warding off age-associated diseases and be an anti-aging method for humans.
Studies - System - Role - Mechanisms
Previous studies have suggested the nervous system plays a role in aging, but the mechanisms were not well understood.
For the new study, published in the journal Nature, the team looked at donated brain tissue from hundreds of people who died between ages 60 and older than 100.
None - Participants - Brain - Diseases - Dementia
None of the participants had been diagnosed with any age-related brain diseases, such as dementia.
Next, they analyzed gene expression patterns, which is the extent to which various genes are turned 'on and off' like a light switch.
Researchers - Participants - Expression - Genes - Excitation
Researchers found that the participants who had lived the longest - aged 85 and older - had less expression of genes that are linked to neural excitation, which is when there is over-activity of neurons in the brain.
The team decided to conduct experiments in genetically altered mice,...
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Measuring his life out one teaspoon at a time.