A new scientific study showed that ageing works through a special set of genes that everyone has, the rDNA genes. The international team led by Dr Takehiko Kobayashi from the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima, Japan, found that if we improve the stability of the rDNA genes, which are quite unstable, the lifespan of baker's yeast could be extended. It could help in studying cell ageing.
The scientists tried to understand how the Sir2 gene reduces aging in yeast. Sir2 genes gained prominence as potential human anti-ageing genes with the discovery that resveratrol, a component found in red wine, activates them.
However, subsequent research has shown that resveratrol doesn't extend lifespan in mammals. The yeast Sir2 gene controls rDNA stability, but also has many other targets in the cell. The breakthrough came when the scientists found a way to separate Sir2's effect on the rDNA from its other effects.
This allowed them to show that Sir2's anti-ageing effect comes exclusively through stabilisation of the rDNA genes. Kobayashi originally proposed a role for rDNA instability in ageing five years ago, but unequivocal support for this theory has been lacking until now.
These new results suggest that finding a way to artificially improve rDNA gene stability may delay the ageing process in humans too. However, Ganley cautions that the role of the rDNA genes in human ageing still needs to be clarified.
Who: Scientific study