Biologists: Gene Can Slow Aging Process

Biologists say they have identified a gene that can slow the body’s aging process when activated remotely in key organ systems.

Working with fruit flies, researchers at UCLA used the gene, called AMPK, to increase  lifespans by about 30 percent, the university announced Monday.

The research showed that triggering AMPK sped the process of getting rid of “cellular garbage,” the scientists say, noting that many neurodegenerative diseases are associated with the buildup of protein aggregates, a type of cellular garbage, in the brain.

“Instead of studying the diseases of aging — Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes — one by one, we believe it may be possible to intervene in the aging process and delay the onset of many of these diseases,” said David Walker, an associate professor of integrative biology and physiology at UCLA and senior author of the research.

“We are not there yet, and it could, of course, take many years, but that is our goal and we think it is realistic,” he said.