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Aging Process Can Be Delayed By 'Remote Control'

Update Date: Sep 09, 2014 09:04 AM EDT

Researchers have identified a gene that can slow the aging process throughout the entire body when activated in a key organ system, according to a new study. 

Researchers performing the experiments on fruit flies, activated a gene called AMPK that is a key energy sensor in cells, and it got activated when cellular energy levels were low.

Researchers noted that increasing the amount of AMPK in fruit files' intestines increased their lifespans by about 30 percent and flies also stayed healthier and longer as well. 

The research could have important implications for delaying aging and disease in humans, said David Walker, an associate professor of integrative biology and physiology at UCLA and senior author of the research, in the press release.

"We have shown that when we activate the gene in the intestine or the nervous system, we see the aging process is slowed beyond the organ system in which the gene is activated," Walker said.

The study underscored that activating AMPK in a more accessible organ such as intestine, could ultimately slow the aging process throughout the entire body, including 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 Walker, a member of UCLA's Molecular Biology Institute. "We are not there yet, and it could, of course, take many years, but that is our goal and we think it is realistic.

"The ultimate aim of our research is to promote healthy aging in people."

The study has been published in the open-source journal Cell Reports.

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