The discovery of a way to remotely control aging process throughout the entire body, including the brain, has been highlighted in a new study.
The researchers from University of California, Los Angeles, while working with fruit flies, activated a gene called AMPK that is a key energy sensor in cells, which gets activated when cellular energy levels are low.
Increasing the amount of AMPK in fruit flies' intestines, their life-spans increased by about 30 percent, to roughly eight weeks from the typical six, and the flies stayed healthier longer as well.
Senior author David Walker said that when they activated the gene in the intestine or the nervous system, the aging process was slowed beyond the organ system in which the gene was activated.
Walker added that instead of studying the diseases of aging, like Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease and diabetes individually, they believe it may be possible to intervene in the aging process and delay the onset of many of these diseases.
Walker continued that the ultimate aim of their research is to promote healthy aging in people.
Lead author Matthew Ulgherait focused on a cellular process called autophagy, which enables cells to degrade and discard old, damaged cellular components.
By getting rid of that "cellular garbage" before it damages cells, autophagy protects against aging, and AMPK has been shown previously to activate this process.
The research is published in the open-source journal Cell Reports.