Scientists have identified eight genes, which could slow down the ageing process - and help people live longer, healthier lives.
The key to stop the distressing signs of ageing may lie in a steroid found in blood.
If scientists could alter how this steroid - known as DHEAS - works, then the ageing process could be slowed down, reports the Daily Express.
Until now, there has been no way of knowing what role the steroid plays in ageing.
Guangju Zhai, from King's College London, whose research team identified the eight vital genes, said the discovery will help scientists gauge how much the steroid is to blame.
"It has been a mystery how DHEAS functions," he said.
"This new research offers a new insight into how the body controls levels of DHEAS and why it dwindles with age."
Previous studies have shown that the steroid reaches a peak at around 25 or 30.
But as we get older, levels plummet. By the time we reach 85 years old it has diminished by 95 per cent.
The steroid has been linked to diseases that occur as we age, such as diabetes and certain cancers. But it is not clear if it causes us to age, or is a by-product of ageing itself.
Two of the genes have already been linked to ageing and two others to age-related diseases.
Now the King's College team says it now needs to carry out more detailed studies on the other four genes.
The research team analysed DHEAS levels and 2.5million genetic variants in 14,846 people across Europe and the USA.
They found eight common genes that control the blood concentration of DHEAS and, importantly, some of these genes are associated with ageing and common age-related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and lymphoma.
"For 50 years we have observed the most abundant circulating steroid in the body with no clue as to its role. Now its genes have shown us its importance in many parts of the ageing process," said Prof Tim Spector, senior co-author from King's College.
The study is published in the journal PLoS Genetics.