New York: In what could lead to potential new ways of slowing the pace of ageing in humans, research have identified 238 genes that, when removed from living cells, can extend their life.
The 10-year study by scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the University of Washington in the US was conducted on yeast cells.
As many of these genes and genetic pathways are also found in mammals, the researchers believe that if the same gene editing technique could be replicated in humans, it could help extend our lifespan.
"This study looks at ageing in the context of the whole genome and gives us a more complete picture of what aging is," said study lead author Brian Kennedy, president and CEO, Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California.
The researchers examined 4,698 yeast strains, each with a single gene deletion.
To determine which strains yielded increased lifespan, the researchers counted yeast cells, logging how many daughter cells a mother produced before it stopped dividing.
These efforts produced a wealth of information about how different genes, and their associated pathways, modulate ageing in yeast.
A number of the age-extending genes the team identified are also found in roundworms, indicating these mechanisms are conserved in higher organisms.
In fact, many of the anti-aging pathways associated with yeast genes are maintained all the way to humans, the researchers said.
"Almost half of the genes we found that affect aging are conserved in mammals," Kennedy said.
"In theory, any of these factors could be therapeutic targets to extend healthspan. What we have to do now is figure out which ones are amenable to targeting," Kennedy pointed out.
The research was published online in the journal Cell Metabolism.